George Rippey Stewart was born in Pennsylvania on this day in 1895 and died in California in 1980. A Professor of English at the University of California, he published a number of novels, including two studies of natural catastrophe, Storm and Fire. Earth Abides is his only work of science fiction and won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951.
In this profound ecological fable, a mysterious plague has destroyed the vast majority of the human race. Isherwood Williams, one of the few survivors, returns from a wilderness field trip to discover that civilization has vanished during his absence.
Eventually he returns to San Francisco and encounters a female survivor who becomes his wife. Around them and their children a small community develops, living like their pioneer ancestors, but rebuilding civilization is beyond their resources, and gradually they return to a simpler way of life.
You can read more about George R. Stewart in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.