A Twentieth-century American author, he is especially known for historical fiction novels that capture the spirit of life on the American frontier. His best-known works include The Sea of Grass (1937), The Awakening Land Trilogy (1940-1950), and The Light in the Forest (1953).
He became editor of a Pennsylvania newspaper when he was just nineteen years old. In the 1930s, he began publishing his short stories in pulp magazines.
He received the Pulitzer Prize for The Town (1950) and the National Book Award for The Waters of Kronos (1960).
He grew up in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania and came from a long line of Lutheran clergymen.
Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy starred in the film adaptation of Richter's pioneer-themed novel, Sea of Grass.