George Papashvily

(1898 - 1978)

A photo of George Papashvily
George Papashvily
1898 - 1978
August 23, 1898
Kobiaantkari, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Georgia
March 28, 1978
Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, California United States
Last Known Residence
Quakertown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania 18951
George Papashvily was born on August 23, 1898 in Kobiaantkari, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Georgia. He married Helen Waite and they were together until death separated them. He died on March 28, 1978 in Cambria, California at age 79. We know that George Papashvily had been residing in Quakertown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania 18951.
Updated: March 05, 2019
George Papashvily (Georgian: გიორგი პაპაშვილი; August 23, 1898 - March 29, 1978) was a Georgian-American writer and sculptor.
He was born in the village of Kobiaantkari in the Dusheti District, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of eastern Georgia. According to his autobiography, he apprenticed as a swordmaker and ornamental leatherworker. After service as a sniper in the Russian army in World War I, he immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1920s, and thereafter lived and worked in the U.S. Papashvily succeeded both as a sculptor and as an author; he was also a gifted engineer and inventor.
He met and married an American, Helen Waite (1906-1996). Together they wrote several books, often based on his life experiences. Their first book was Anything Can Happen (1945), which recounted Papashvily's experiences as a penniless immigrant. Originally published in a serialized format in Common Ground and Direction magazines, this book was co-selected for the Book of the Month Club and was a best-seller, selling more than 600,000 copies in the U.S. and 1.5 million worldwide. It was translated into 15 foreign languages, including Georgian (in 1966). It was made into a movie in 1952, starring Jose Ferrer as George and Kim Hunter as Helen. Papashvily died in 1978 in Cambria, California.
Some other books by the Papashvilys were
Yes and No Stories - A Book of Georgian Folk Tales (1946)
Dogs and People (1954)
Thanks to Noah (1956)
Home and Home Again (1973, recounting a trip they made back to the village in the 1960s)
Russian Cooking (1969)
Thanks to Noah was also published in Georgian (in 1971).
With no formal training, Papashvily began carving in 1940. He soon developed a signature style that was a combination of naive and modern. He carved directly in wood and stone, sculpting free-standing figures and bas relief. His favorite subjects came from nature: animals, flowers, and an occasional human figure. Among his most famous works are:
War's End (1946)
Pigeons (1948, Hazleton Art League)
Ram (1951)
Butterfly (1952, Woodmere Art Gallery)
Horse (1955, National Art Gallery of the Republic of Georgia)
Animal (1957, Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery)
Apple (1959)
Library Bears (1966, Fox Chase Branch, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Bear Cub with Frog (1966, West Oak Lane Branch, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Otter (1975, Children's Literature Research Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Papashvily exhibited widely in solo exhibitions and with painters who were his friends.
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George Papashvily
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George Papashvily
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Quakertown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania 18951
Last known residence
George Papashvily was born on in Kobiaantkari, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Georgia
George Papashvily died on in Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, California United States
George Papashvily was born on in Kobiaantkari, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Georgia
George Papashvily died on in Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, California United States

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Soviet Georgian (USSR)

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George Papashvily


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George Papashvily & Helen Waite Papashvily

George Papashvily


1906 - 1996 1906 - 1996


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George Papashvily, a Co‐Author Of ‘Anything Can Happen,’
March 31, 1978, Page 2
The New York Times Archives
George Papashvily, an immigrant from Soviet Georgia who with his wife, Helen, was author of a humorous 1945 best-selling book about his madcap adventures in the, United States, died on Wednesday in Cambria, Calif., after a long illness. His exact birthdate is unknown, .but he was about 80 years old.
The Papashvilys wrote rive Dooxs, including a collection of Georgian folklore and a primer about how to co‐exist with dogs. But it was their first book, “Anything Can Happen,” that landed them on the best‐seller charts. The book sold 600,000 copies, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, was translated into 15 foreign languages including Urdu, and was made into a motion picture with Jose Ferrer and Kim Hunter.
“It is a book that bubbles with laughter and high spirits, that glows with gentlene4:. and affection, that sings with joy in life:itself,” wrote Orville Prescott in The New York Times. “George's spontaneouS zeal and radiant warmth of spirit seem as natural as rain and at the same time perfectly compatible with maturity and common sense.” ‘ •
Found Humor
The words “joy,” “gentleness,” and “warmth” crop up„repeatedly in writings about the man who was born in Kobiankari a’ village in Caucasian Georgia. His mother reportedly was the only person in the village who could read and write. A gregarious, expansive storyteller, Mr. Papashvily found a nugget of humor in situations in which most of his contemporaaies found only base metal. Most of the contretemps and foibles he wrote about were of his own making.
Perhaps no one was as surprised by his success as Mr. Papashvily himself, far he had scratched out little more than a bare ‘living at a variety of odd jobs in his adopted land before “Anything Can Happen.” It was almost as if it took a Russian immigrant, who had become an American citizen the previous year, to remind his fellow countrymen that laughter had not been rationed.
As a youth, Mr. Papashvily was trained to make ornamental riding crops and was apprenticed to a sword maker. He served in the Czar's army for six years, part of the time as a sharp shooter on tile Turkish front, and was in the Georgian rational army during the Russian Revolution. Afterward, he drove a taxicab while in exile in Istanbul, then called Constantinople.
Mr. Papashvily arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1920's, after traveling in the steerage of a Greek ship. He spoke four languages, but hardly a word of English. On his first day in New York, he found work as a dishwasher. His curiosity, wanderlust and unshakable belief.•that America was a land where “anything can happen” soon led him to Jobs in a glue factory in Pittsburgh, automobile factories in Detroit and a chicken farm in Virginia, and on to Hollywood, where he played Cossacks in several forgettable films.
Unspoiled by Success
In 1930 he met Helen Waite, who was managing a bookstore in Berkeley, Calif. By three time ‘they married in New York in the mid‐1930's, she .had already been writing for several years. It was she who polished her husband's limited English prose.
Success did not spoil the Papashvilys. They bought a farm in Bucks’ County, Pa. in 1939, and although they later spent winters in California, they returned to the farm each year. Mrs. Papashvily bought a bookstore in nearby Allentown, and Mr. Papashvily worked during the war as a sewing‐machine mechanic.
In his spare time he ‘carved animals in limestone, sandstone or wood, and had a particular penchant for carving otters. Many of his carvings are in private collections, as well as in public libraries in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Beverly Hills.
The couple's last book, “Home’ and Home Again,” was published in 1973. The memoir described Mr. Papashvily's return to his Georgian village after 40 years in America. ‘I didn't know how much the revolution had changed things, or if I should address someone as ‘comrade,’ he told an interviewer. “But I found that even the revolution didn't change good manners.”
Mr. Papashvily is survived by his wife Helen Waite Papashvily.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during George's lifetime.

In 1898, in the year that George Papashvily was born, on February 15th, the USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor. The reason for the explosion has never been found, but it killed 266 men. "Remember the Maine" became a rallying cry and precipitated the United States' declaration of war on Spain two months later - the beginning of the Spanish-American War. On December 10th, the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The Treaty gave the U.S. Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam - for $20 million - and, temporarily, Cuba.

In 1900, George was merely 2 years old when the German physicist Max Planck formulated an energy theory, postulating the existence of "quanta," which lays the groundwork for the quantum theory of modern physics. In December, he introduced a paper on the Planck postulate which stated that E=hv - the energy of a photon is proportional to its frequency times a constant. Planck won a Nobel Prize in 1918 for his work in theoretical Physics.

In 1911, he was just 13 years old when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, along with four fellow Norwegian explorers. After hearing that Peary had beaten him to the North Pole, Amundsen decided to tackle the South Pole. On December 14th, he succeeded.

In 1935, when he was 37 years old, on September 8th, Louisiana Senator Huey Long was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss. Weiss was shot and killed immediately by Long's bodyguards - Long died two days later from his injuries. Long had received many death threats previously, as well as threats against his family. He was a powerful and controversial figure in Louisiana politics (and probably gained power through multiple criminal acts). His opponents became frustrated with their attempts to oust him and Dr. Weiss was the son-in-law of one of those opponents. His funeral was attended by 200,000 mourners.

In 1978, in the year of George Papashvily's passing, on July 25th, Louise Brown, the first "test-tube baby", was born at Oldham Hospital in London. Louise was conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization), a controversial and experimental procedure at the time.

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1906 - 1996 1906 - 1996

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