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Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia

Sandra L. Ballard
Patricia L. Hudson
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 712
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  • Book Info
    Listen Here
    Book Description:

    Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia is a landmark anthology that brings together the work of 105 Appalachian women writers, including Dorothy Allison, Harriette Simpson Arnow, Annie Dillard, Nikki Giovanni, Denise Giardina, Barbara Kingsolver, Jayne Anne Phillips, Janice Holt Giles, George Ella Lyon, Sharyn McCrumb, and Lee Smith. Editors Sandra L. Ballard and Patricia L. Hudson offer a diverse sampling of time periods and genres, established authors and emerging voices. From regional favorites to national bestsellers, this unprecedented gathering of Appalachian voices displays the remarkable talent of the region's women writers who've made their mark at home and across the globe.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4357-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xviii)
  3. Chronology of Works
    (pp. xix-xxviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  5. About the Editors
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    The 105 writers in this collection are women who have spent their writing lives saying what they want to; the goal of this anthology is to ensure that more people have the opportunity to listen. As a group, these writers have been relegated to the fringes of the American literary community, largely because their “place”—Appalachia—continues to be viewed as outside the American mainstream.

    Appalachian author Lee Smith has examined the general public’s perception of the region and concluded that “Appalachia is to the South what the South is to the rest of the country. That is: lesser than,...

  7. Sheila Kay Adams (March 18, 1953– )
    (pp. 6-9)
    Sheila Kay Adams

    Sheila Kay Adams is a seventh-generation ballad singer who has participated in the tradition of learning and singing English, Irish, and Scottish ballads from her ancestors who arrived in North Carolina in the late 1700s. Adams and her family live in Madison County, North Carolina, where she was born. She has three children and is passing the ballad traditions to them. Her primary teacher was her great aunt Dellie Chandler Norton, her “Granny,” who said about Sheila, “She may not always know where she’s going, but she sure knows where she comes from.”

    After completing her B.A. in education at...

  8. Dorothy Allison (April 11, 1949– )
    (pp. 10-16)
    Dorothy Allison

    Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Dorothy Allison began to receive recognition for her work as a poet and short story writer in the 1980s. Her first collection of stories,Trash,published by Firebrand Books in 1988, won the Lambda Literary Awards for Best Small Press Book and Best Lesbian Book.

    In a 1992 interview with National Public Radio’s Terri Gross, Allison explained some of the autobiographical elements of her best-known work,Bastard Out of Carolina,a National Book Award finalist in 1992. Allison’s birth was traumatic. Her mother, who was barely fifteen, was pregnant when she suffered a concussion during...

  9. Lisa Alther (July 23, 1944– )
    (pp. 17-21)
    Lisa Alther

    Novelist Lisa (pronounced “LIE-za”) Reed Alther was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, and spent her childhood there. She left the region to attend Wellesley College, graduating in 1966 with a B.A. That same year, she married Richard Alther, a painter; the couple had a daughter, Sara, and later divorced. Alther has lived most of her adult life in New England; she presently divides her time between Hinesburg, Vermont, and Jonesborough, Tennessee. “I get labeled a Southern writer, woman’s writer, feminist, gay, Appalachian, sometimes a New England writer,” Alther says. “I’m happy to be included in any of those groups. I don’t...

  10. Maggie Anderson (September 23, 1948– )
    (pp. 22-29)
    Maggie Anderson

    Maggie Anderson inherited Appalachian connections from both sides of her family. Her mother’s family was from Jefferson, Pennsylvania, on the West Virginia border near Morgantown; her father’s family was from Preston County, West Virginia. The only child of teachers, Anderson grew up around aunts and uncles who worked in mines, mills, and on the railroad.

    She was born in New York City. Her mother died when she was nine, and when she was thirteen, she and her father moved back to West Virginia. Her West Virginia connections have been the subject of her creative work as a poet, a teacher,...

  11. Anne W. Armstrong (September 20, 1872–March 17, 1958)
    (pp. 30-35)
    Anne W. Armstrong

    Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Anne Wetzell Armstrong was the daughter of Lorinda Snyder Wetzell and Henry B. Wetzell. She moved with her family to Knoxville, Tennessee, when she was a girl. Having spent part of her youth as her father’s hiking partner in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky, she returned to these mountains throughout her life, finally retiring ro Sullivan County, in upper East Tennessee where she wrote her best-known novel,This Day and Time.

    Educated at Mt. Holyoke College and the University of Chicago, Armstrong spent part of her life blazing trails as a businesswoman....

  12. Harriette Simpson Arnow (July 7, 1908–March 22, 1986)
    (pp. 36-46)
    Harriette Simpson Arnow

    Harriette Simpson Arnow, the second oldest child of six, grew up in the south-central Kentucky town of Burnside, located on the South Fork of the Cumberland River. Her mother, Molly Denney Simpson, and her father, Elias Simpson, had both been schoolteachers before their marriage, and her mother wanted her daughters also to become teachers.

    After graduating from Burnside High School in 1924, Arnow attended Berea College in Kentucky (1924–26) and earned her teaching certificate. She then began a job as the teacher of a one-room school in Pulaski County, Kentucky. While there, she took a correspondence course, the only...

  13. Sylvia Trent Auxier (December 28, 1900–December 4, 1967)
    (pp. 47-51)
    Sylvia Trent Auxier

    Sylvia Trent Auxier was the eldest of sixteen children born to Dollie Blaine May Trent and T.J. Trent. She grew up in Pike County, Kentucky, attending a one-room log school. She went on to Pikeville College Academy, where she graduated at the head of her class.

    She was a teacher for two years before earning an R.N. degree at the University of Cincinnati Nursing School. She began her career as a public health nurse in eastern Kentucky, traveling by horseback to patients in Pike, Knott, Perry, and Leslie counties.

    In 1928, she married Jean Auxier, a lawyer, and they lived...

  14. Marilou Awiakta (January 24, 1936– )
    (pp. 52-61)
    Marilou Awiakta

    A seventh-generation Appalachian native who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Marilou Awiakta grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with a unique heritage that places her mountain and Cherokee roots in the context of the birthplace of atomic energy. Her earliest experiences, she explains, helped her to blend her love of nature with the nuclear science of her hometown community, which was an exciting “frontier environment where anything seemed possible.... I could study molecules one morning and pick blackberries the next.” She gives her parents credit for helping her learn to value family stories, Appalachian traditions, and classic literature. She currently...

  15. Artie Ann Bates (July 20, 1953– )
    (pp. 62-68)
    Artie Ann Bates

    Eastern Kentuckian Artie Ann Bates was born in Blackey, where she now lives with her husband and son in one of the Letcher County homes where she grew up. The daughter of Eunice Cornett Bates, an elementary school teacher, and Bill Bates, a coal miner, she was the fifth of six children in her family.

    During her childhood, she explains, she rarely saw anyone she didn’t know. “My first experience living among strangers occurred when I began college at the University of Kentucky in the summer of 1971. These strangers thoughtIwas the stranger.” Homesickness drove her home for...

  16. Frances Courtenay Baylor (January 20, 1848–0ctober 19, 1920)
    (pp. 69-71)
    Frances Courtenay Baylor

    Frances Courtenay Baylor was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the daughter of Sophie Baylor Dawson, from Winchester, Virginia, and army officer James Dawson.

    Educated by her mother, Baylor spent most of her childhood on army posts. She lived in San Antonio and New Orleans. Around 1865, when her father died (or left), her mother resumed using her maiden name and returned with Frances to live with family in Virginia. At the end of the Civil War, they traveled to England with Frances’s sister, who had married Confederate general J.G. Walker, and lived there for several years before returning to Winchester,...

  17. Sue Ellen Bridgers (September 20, 1942– )
    (pp. 72-76)
    Sue Ellen Bridgers

    Fiction writer Sue Ellen Bridgers grew up in Pitt County, North Carolina, and moved to Jackson County, North Carolina, in 1971. She was the middle child of the three children of Elizabeth Abbott Hunsucker and Wayland Hunsucker. While her father struggled periodically with depression, her mother encouraged her ambitions to be a writer. “She knew instinctively the value of story. She knew how it brought light into the shadows, meaning to the ambiguous, shape to the fears and delights in daily life. Her encouragement strengthened my resolve to find meaning in the world through language.”

    Bridgers earned her B.A. from...

  18. Florence Cope Bush (March 29, 1933– )
    (pp. 77-80)
    Florence Cope Bush

    Florence Cope Bush is the daughter of Dora (“Dorie”) Woodruff Cope and Fred Cope. Born in Tremont, Tennessee, a small community between Townsend and Cades Cove, she lived there only three years before her parents’ land was claimed by eminent domain to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “I have no memory of ever having lived in the misty, blue mountains,” she writes. “But everything about the Smokies fascinates me, and I’m ever drawn back to the place of my birth.”

    She spent many summers on her grandparents’ farm in Sevier County, Tennessee, and to preserve something of their...

  19. Kathryn Stripling Byer (November 25, 1944– )
    (pp. 81-88)
    Kathryn Stripling Byer

    The daughter of a homemaker and a farmer, Kathryn Stripling Byer grew up in southwest Georgia. She graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, in 1966 with a B.A., and earned her M.F.A. in 1968 at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where she studied with Allen Tate, Fred Chappell, and Robert Watson. While there, she won the Academy of American Poets Student Prize for the University of North Carolina system.

    “Most of my poetry is rooted in the earth of two poetic landscapes,” Byer explains, “each with its own particular voice and rhythm. One is the flatlands of...

  20. Candie Carawan (December 27, 1939– )
    (pp. 89-94)
    Candie Carawan

    Cultural educator Candie Anderson Carawan has been at the forefront of social change in Appalachia since the 1960s. A native Californian, Carawan first came to the South as a college art major on an exchange program from Pomona College in Claremont, California, to Fisk University in Nashville.

    Shortly after her arrival in Tennessee, she was caught up in the fledgling civil rights movement, becoming one of the first whites arrested in the lunch counter sit-ins to protest segregation. She met her husband, musician and folklorist Guy Carawan, at a civil-rights workshop; together, they have devoted their lives to preserving grass...

  21. Jo Carson (October 9, 1946– )
    (pp. 95-105)
    Jo Carson

    Jo Carson is a native of Johnson City, Tennessee, where she makes her home. A poet, a playwright, a short story author, and an actress, Carson graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1973 with a degree in speech and theater. In addition to writing and acting, Carson has been an occasional commentator for National Public Radio’sAll Things Considered.

    Carson first began writing poems around the age of ten, which got her in trouble, she says, because she ignored her schoolwork. “I was a terrible student, and I hated school.... I took a long time getting through college because...

  22. Rebecca Caudill (February 2, 1899–October 2, 1985)
    (pp. 106-111)
    Rebecca Caudill

    Rebecca Caudill was a teacher, an editor, and an author of more than twenty books for young adults and children, many of which were set in Appalachia. Caudill was born in Harlan County, Kentucky, to Susan Smith Caudill and George W. Caudill, who were both teachers. Rebecca was educated at Wesleyan College (A.B., 1920) in Macon, Georgia, and Vanderbilt University (M.A., 1922). After graduate school, she traveled and taught in Brazil, Canada, Russia, and Europe. She met her husband, editor James S. Ayars, in Turkey. The couple was married in 1931 and made their home in Urbana, Illinois. They had...

  23. Lillie D. Chaffin (February 1, 1925–0ctober 27, 1993)
    (pp. 112-116)
    Lillie D. Chaffin

    Lillie Dorton Chaffin Kash grew up in eastern Kentucky, the daughter of Fairy Belle Kelly Dorton and Kenis Roscoe Dorton. A graduate of Pikeville College (B.S., 1956) and Eastern Kentucky University (M.A., 1966), she began her career as an elementary school teacher and a librarian. In the 1960s, she became a freelance writer of poetry and books for children. As a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer, she explained, “I do most of my creative writing at ‘odd’ hours, mostly from two a.m. to six a.m.”

    From the beginning, Chaffin (pronounced CHAY-fin) received wide recognition and a number...

  24. Loletta Clouse (October 17‚ 1948– )
    (pp. 117-122)
    Loletta Clouse

    Novelist Loletta Clouse spent her childhood in Cumberland Homesteads, a New Deal community in middle Tennessee that was designed to give destitute workers both employment and the opportunity to own a thirty-acre farm. “My grandparents were original Homesteaders,” says Clouse. “Before that, they had lived in a coal mining camp, which is where my mother grew up; her childhood stories left a deep impression on me.”

    After earning a B.S. in education from Tennessee Technological University, in Cookeville, Tennessee, Clouse spent a year driving a bookmobile in rural Appalachia. She then went back to school and earned a Master’s degree...

  25. Ann Cobb (September 15, 1885–January 12, 1960)
    (pp. 123-127)
    Ann Cobb

    A native New Englander, Ann Cobb arrived in Kentucky in 1905 at the invitation of May Stone, a former classmate at Wellesley College. Stone and a fellow teacher, Katherine Pettit, had established the Hindman Settlement School (a school for mountain youth) in eastern Kentucky in 1902. Cobb was so impressed with the fledgling school that she joined the Hindman staff and remained there until her retirement in 1957.

    Cobb’s poetry, based on her experiences with mountain people, appeared regularly in national magazines such as theSaturday Evening PostandSt. Nicholas.In 1922, the Houghton Mifflin Company publishedKinfolks,a...

  26. Lisa Coffman (August 14, 1963– )
    (pp. 128-135)
    Lisa Coffman

    Poet Lisa Coffman grew up in East Tennessee. Her mother’s family lived in Glenmary, Tennessee, a once bustling logging and mining town. She completed her B.A. in computer science and English at the University of Tennessee in 1985, spent a year in Germany as a Rotary Exchange Scholar at Universität Bonn, and then earned an M.A. in English from the creative writing program at New York University in 1989.

    Her first book of poems,Likely,won the 1995 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, a national first-book competition sponsored by Kent State University Press and judged by Alicia Ostriker. Coffman...

  27. Amy Tipton Cortner (June 22, 1955– )
    (pp. 136-140)
    Amy Tipton Cortner

    Amy Tipton Cortner is a writer and a teacher who grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee. She is the daughter of Anne Grafton Tipton, a homemaker “whose profession continues to be caring for all of us—not an easy task,” says Cortner. Cortner traces her maternal heritage to South Carolina from the 1640s and her paternal connections to East Tennessee from 1768. Her father, Kermit Tipton, is a retired coach and teacher.

    She has an undergraduate degree in American Studies (1977) and an M.A. in English (1983) from East Tennessee State University. She has taught Tennessee literature and traditional dance...

  28. Lou V.P. Crabtree (March 13, 1913– )
    (pp. 141-151)
    Lou V.P. Crabtree

    Born in Washington County, Virginia, Lou Crabtree has spent most of her life in Appalachia. She credits her mother for teaching her to love words. “She loved to read and she taught me to love literature when I was real young.” Her father attended Milligan College in Tennessee. Although he never went to law school, he served as a “squire” who officiated over local disputes and trials for forty years.

    Lou Crabtree explains that her father had two families. The children from his first marriage lived with her family, though, she says, “we never got along.” She graduated from Greendale...

  29. Olive Tilford Dargan [Fielding Burke] (January 11, 1869–January 22, 1968)
    (pp. 152-155)
    Olive Tilford Dargan

    Olive Tilford Dargan’s literary career spanned half a century and embraced numerous genres, including poetry, drama, short stories, and novels. Dargan was born on a farm near Litchfield, Kentucky, and spent her early childhood there. When she was ten, her schoolteacher parents moved the family to Missouri. Dargan earned a degree from Peabody College in Nashville and subsequently taught in Arkansas, Texas, and Nova Scotia.

    From 1893 to 1894, she attended Radcliffe, where she met Harvard student Pegram Dargan, whom she married in 1898. While in Boston, Dargan worked as a secretary for the president of a small company being...

  30. Doris Davenport (January 29, 1949– )
    (pp. 156-161)
    Doris Davenport

    Born in Gainesville, Florida, Doris Davenport lived in Cornelia, Georgia, from age five until age fifteen, when people, experiences, and landscapes of northeast Georgia began to shape her identity. The oldest daughter of Ethel Mae Gibson Davenport and Claude Davenport, she attended the “Cornelia Regional Colored High School, one ‘magnet’ school which included grades one through twelve and all the African American children from five adjoining counties (bussed in, daily).”

    She began college at sixteen and graduated in 1969 with a B.A. in English from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. She earned her M.A. in English from State University of...

  31. Rebecca Harding Davis (June 24, 1831–September 29, 1910)
    (pp. 162-167)
    Rebecca Harding Davis

    Rebecca Blaine Harding Davis was the first of five children of Rachel Leet Wilson Harding and Richard Harding. She was born at the family home of her mother’s Irish grandparents, the first white settlers in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

    In 1837, her parents moved from Big Spring (now Huntsville), Alabama, to Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia). Her education was guided by her mother and private tutors until she was entolled at the Washington [Pennsylvania] Female Seminary, from 1845 to 1848, where she graduated with highest honors. She then returned home to Wheeling to help her mother with the education of her...

  32. Ann Deagon (January 19, 1930– )
    (pp. 168-173)
    Ann Deagon

    The daughter of Robert and Alice Webb Fleming, Ann Deagon was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She earned her B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College in 1950 and her doctorate in classical studies from the University of North Carolina in 1954. In 1951 she married Donald Deagon and is now the mother of two daughters.

    After beginning her career as a classics professor at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, she joined the faculty at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1956 and served as Professor of Humanities and Writer-in-Residence there until her retirement in 1992.

    Beginning her writing career in 1970,...

  33. Angelyn DeBord (December 7, 1949– )
    (pp. 174-178)
    Angelyn DeBord

    Playwright, actress, and storyteller, Angelyn DeBord grew up in western North Carolina. “The music and language of Appalachia has been the inspiration for all of my writing,” says DeBord. In an interview in the Appalshop filmStrangers and Kin,she tells of moving to the North Carolina Piedmont for her dad to find work when she was a child. The whole family suffered from such homesickness that they soon moved back to the mountains.

    A founding member of Appalshop’s Roadside Theater, based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, DeBord has spent the past twenty-eight years performing and leading workshops all over America and...

  34. Annie Dillard (April 30, 1945– )
    (pp. 179-182)
    Annie Dillard

    Annie Dillard grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her memoir,An American Childhood,focuses on her early years and her parents. She attended Hollins College in southwest Virginia and earned her B.A. in 1967 and her M.A. in 1968, both in English literature.

    Dillard spent what she describes as “twelve wonderful years” in Roanoke, Virginia, where, in 1973, she wrotePilgrim at Tinker Creek,which won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction in 1975. In addition toPilgrim at Tinker Creek,her nonfiction narratives includeFor the Time Being(favored by critics),Holy the Firm, The Writing Life,andEncounters with Chinese...

  35. Hilda Downer (August 27, 1956– )
    (pp. 183-187)
    Hilda Downer

    Hilda Downer was born and raised in the small western North Carolina community of Bandana, a place so named because a red bandana tied to a laurel signaled the train where to leave the mail. Her birthplace is crucial to her poetry, providing its remote settings, natural imagery, and indigenous language.

    She graduated from Appalachian State University with a double major in English and biology in 1978. After completing a nursing degree in 1983, Downer earned an M.A. in English from Appalachian State University in 1989 and an M.F.A. in poetry from Vermont College in 1996. Having worked as a...

  36. Muriel Miller Dressler (July 4, 1918–February 27, 2000)
    (pp. 188-191)
    Muriel Miller Dressler

    Poet and lecturer Muriel Dressler was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in a small community southeast of Charleston called Witcher. She told editor William Plumley that she didn’t finish high school. “Her real education, she was fond of saying, came at the heels of her mother in the cornfield, where she heard Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and the Bible recited,” Plumley said.

    Dressler’s goal as a writer, she once said, was to “record Appalachia without the sensationalism given it by writers outside the hills.” Popular as a lecturer on college campuses in the 1970s, she gave a reading at Harvard...

  37. Will Allen Dromgoole (October 25,1860–September 1, 1934)
    (pp. 192-196)
    Will Allen Dromgoole

    Will Allen Dromgoole was a poet, local color fiction writer, and playwright from Rutherford County, Tennessee. She served as Poet Laureate of Tennessee, and in 1930 she was appointed Poet Laureate of the Poetry Society of the South. A Boston editor asserted that “her love of the South is only surpassed by the affection she feels for the mountains and valleys of her dear old Tennessee.” Her work was popular in Boston and New York, as well as in the South.

    Her parents, Rebecca Mildred Blanch Dromgoole and John Easter Dromgoole, moved to Tennessee from Brunswick County, Virginia, after their...

  38. Wilma Dykeman (May 20, 1920– )
    (pp. 197-207)
    Wilma Dykeman

    A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Wilma Dykeman inherited a deep love of the written word and the natural world from her parents, Bonnie Cole Dykeman and Willard Dykeman. The family spent evenings reading aloud, and Dykeman describes her childhood home as “a bounty of woods and wildflowers ... a pool and stream, gnarled apple trees. Seventeen acres of past and present.”

    After graduating from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with a B.S. in Speech and Drama, Dykeman had a job in radio waiting for her in New York City, but her plans changed abruptly when Thomas Wolfe’s sister introduced...

  39. Sarah Barnwell Elliott (November 29, 1848–August 30, 1928)
    (pp. 208-212)
    Sarah Barnwell Elliott

    Sarah Barnwell Elliott was the daughter of Charlotte Bull Barnwell Elliott and Bishop Stephen Elliott, one of the founders of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. Born in Georgia, Elliott spent most of her life at Sewanee, with the exception of a year at Johns Hopkins University (1886), and seven years in New York City (1895–1902).

    Elliott was part of the nineteenth-century local color movement, a genre which flourished after the Civil War and was based on the ideal that the local fiction writer could interpret her own area better than someone from the outside. One of...

  40. Sidney Saylor Farr (October 30, 1932– )
    (pp. 213-219)
    Sidney Saylor Farr

    A native of eastern Kentucky, Sidney Saylor Farr is a poet, an essayist, an editor, and a writer of short fiction. A graduate of Berea College (B.A., 1980), Farr grew up near Pine Mountain, Kentucky, an experience she shares in her books,More Than Moonshine: Appalachian Recipes and RecollectionsandTable Talk: Appalachian Meals and Memories.

    She married at the age of fifteen, in part, she says, because the nearest public high school was fifteen miles away and her family didn’t have the money to send her to boarding school. Determined to graduate, Farr took courses by mail and eventually...

  41. Nikky Finney (August 26, 1957– )
    (pp. 220-226)
    Nikky Finney

    Nikky Finney is a founding member of the Affrilachian poets, a community-based group of Appalachian writers of African descent living in and around Lexington, Kentucky. Born in Conway, South Carolina, she is the only daughter of parents who both grew up on farms. Her mother, an elementary school teacher, grew up in Newberry County, South Carolina, and her father, a civil rights lawyer, grew up in Virginia. She was raised in South Carolina and graduated from Talladega College in Alabama.

    Her poems have been published in a number of journals and anthologies, includingIn Search of Color Everywhere, I Hear...

  42. Lucy Furman (June 7, 1870–August 26, 1958)
    (pp. 227-230)
    Lucy Furman

    Short story writer Lucy Furman was born in Henderson, Kentucky, and was orphaned when she was young. An aunt took her into her home and sent her to school in Lexington’s Sayre Institute, from which Furman graduated at the age of sixteen. She lived with her grandparents for several years, before completing a secretarial course and working as a court stenographer in Evansville, Indiana. In Evansville, she began to write stories.

    By the time Furman was twenty-three, her stories were being published inCentury Magazine,and soon after, her first book of stories,Stories of a Sanctified Town,was accepted...

  43. Denise Giardina (October 25, 1951– )
    (pp. 231-239)
    Denise Giardina

    Born in Bluefield, West Virginia, Denise Giardina (pronounced jar-DEE-na) is the daughter of Leona Whitt Giardina, a nurse who grew up in eastern Kentucky, and Dennis Giardina, an accountant whose family came from Sicily to work in the mines. She grew up in the coal mining camp of Black Wolfe in McDowell County, West Virginia, where most of the men in her family worked for the mining companies. Her grandfather and uncles were miners; her father was a bookkeeper for Page Coal and Coke Company. When she was thirteen, the mine that employed her father closed, and she witnessed the...

  44. Janice Holt Giles (March 28, 1909–June 1, 1979)
    (pp. 240-244)
    Janice Holt Giles

    A native of Arkansas, Janice Holt Giles attended the University of Arkansas, as well as Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Her first marriage ended in divorce in 1939, and in 1945 she married Henry Giles, a Kentuckian whose family had settled in the state during the eighteenth century. The couple made their home on the Giles family farm near Knifely, Kentucky.

    A prolific writer, Giles contributed short stories toMcCall’s, Good Housekeeping,andWoman’s Day.Her first book,The Enduring Hills,was published in 1950. For the next decade and a half, Giles produced nearly a book a year, both...

  45. Nikki Giovanni (June 7, 1943– )
    (pp. 245-251)
    Nikki Giovanni

    Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, into a close-knit African American family. Although her parents moved the family to Cincinnati when Giovanni was an infant, she returned frequently to Tennessee to be with her grandparents, and she attended Austin High School in Knoxville.

    Giovanni entered Fisk University in Nashville at the age of seventeen but was expelled after her first semester for leaving campus without permission. She returned to Fisk in 1964 and became an activist, leading two hundred students in a demonstration that forced the reinstatement of a campus chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1967,...

  46. Gail Godwin (June 18, 1937– )
    (pp. 252-256)
    Gail Godwin

    Gail Godwin grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, with her mother and her maternal grandmother. In her essay “On Becoming a Writer,” Godwin explains that her grandmother took care of their domestic life, while her mother, Kathleen Godwin, who had earned an M.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, divided her days between teaching English at a local college and working as a newspaper reporter with theAsheville Citizen.Godwin has strong memories of her mother typing her own stories on the weekends. By the time she was five, Godwin says, “I had allied myself with the...

  47. Connie Jordan Green (February 4, 1938– )
    (pp. 257-261)
    Connie Jordan Green

    Born in West Virginia, children’s author Connie Jordan Green moved to the wartime development of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1944. Although Green spent her childhood in the “Atomic City,” her connection to a more traditional Appalachia remained strong.

    “On visits to my grandparents’ home in the mining area of southeastern Kentucky, I fell asleep to the lullaby of adult voices discussing everything and everybody. I believe it’s both the substance of the stories and the sound—the rhythm of the speech, the cadence of the language—that propel my writing.

    “In subject matter, both my young adult novels concern families...

  48. Virginia Hamilton (March 12, 1936–February 19, 2002)
    (pp. 262-266)
    Virginia Hamilton

    Virginia Hamilton was the first African American writer to win the Newbery Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature. A native of Yellow Springs, Ohio, Hamilton’s lifelong interest in African American history grew from the tales rold by her maternal grandfather, who was born a slave and managed to escape. “In the background of much of my writing is the dream of freedom tantalizingly out of reach,” Hamilton said.

    She attended Antioch College and Ohio State University, but left school and moved to New York to pursue a writing career. In 1960, she married Arnold Adoff, a...

  49. Pauletta Hansel (August 29, 1959– )
    (pp. 267-273)
    Pauletta Hansel

    Poet Pauletta Hansel is one of three children of Lamie Lewis Hansel and Charles Hansel of Somerset, Kentucky. Born and raised in eastern Kentucky, she began writing when she was a child and became a published poet (inMountain Review)when she was a teenager. At age sixteen, while still in high school, she was recruited to enroll at Antioch College. She attended Antioch’s Appalachian campus in Beckley, West Virginia, and graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in human services. Her master’s degree, with a concentration in Montessori education, is from Xavier University (1980).

    In 1976, Hansel’s work was featured...

  50. Corra Harris (May 17, 1869–February 7, 1935)
    (pp. 274-276)
    Corra Harris

    Corra Mae (or Mary) White Harris was born in Elbert County, Georgia. She married Lundy Howard Harris, a Methodist clergyman, in 1887 and began writing in an effort to eke out a living after her husband suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to resign his professorship at Emory College. She became a regular contributor to a New York journal, theIndependent,tackling everything from book reviews to editorials.

    Her novels Were extremely popular during the first half of the twentieth century. Her first novel,The Jessica Letters,was followed by her best-known work,A Circuit Rider’s Wife,a novel...

  51. Mildred Haun (January 6, 1911–December 20, 1966)
    (pp. 277-281)
    Mildred Haun

    East Tennessean Mildred Eunice Haun was one of three children of Margaret Ellen Haun and James Enzor Haun. As the writer explained, “My mother was a Cocke County Haun and married a Hamblen County Haun.” Mildred grew up in the Hoot Owl District of Cocke County, Tennessee, and attended public schools there.

    Deciding that her community needed a doctor, Haun went to live with an aunt and uncle to further her education. After graduating from Franklin High School in 1931, she was admitted to Vanderbilt University. She gradually abandoned her dream of medical school and took an advanced composition course...

  52. Ellesa Clay High (December 23, 1948– )
    (pp. 282-286)
    Ellesa Clay High

    Ellesa Clay High was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but has chosen to reside in Appalachia for most of her adult life. Her mother was a teacher and poet who, High says, “grew verse as abundantly as the beans she raised in her garden,” and was a major influence on her daughter’s lifelong love of words.

    High received a B.A. from Butler University in 1970 and an M.A. from the University of Louisville in 1972. She completed her Ph.D. at Ohio University in 1981.

    A writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, High’s best-known work,Past Titan Rock,weaves all...

  53. Mary Bozeman Hodges (July 1, 1944– )
    (pp. 287-291)
    Mary Bozeman Hodges

    Mary Bozeman Hodges grew up in Jefferson City, Tennessee, the daughter of Charlie Mae McGill Bozeman and Paul Bozeman. She credits both her parents with influencing her love of language. “My mother always read to me from the classics. Even when there were words I didn’t understand, she read with so much feeling and expression that there was no question as to the meaning. Very early in my life, I read Dickens, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Alcott, and others, at her insistence.” Hodges adds, “She was a secretary and a stickler for correct grammar.” But Mary Hodges’s father was the family’s...

  54. Gloria Houston
    (pp. 292-297)
    Gloria Houston

    Children’s author and educator Gloria Houston is a native of Marion, North Carolina. Her parents ran a country store near Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and, Houston says, she was “saturated with language, almost from birth. I heard the language of every stratum of society as customers came and went.”

    By the age of seven, she knew she wanted to be a writer, but an aptitude for music led to a bachelor’s degree in music education from Appalachian State University in 1963, and a subsequent series of teaching positions. Houston earned an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction in English education in...

  55. Lee Howard (January 30, 1952– April 25, 2003)
    (pp. 298-302)
    Lee Howard

    Eastern Kentucky native Lee Howard was a poet and short story author. “My mountain voice is my first and true voice,” wrote Howard. “The thing I tell people after giving my name, is that I’m from the mountains in East Kentucky.”

    Howard’s ancestors arrived in Kentucky even earlier than Daniel Boone, and have lived there ever since. Howard, who spent the last years of her life in the Pacific Northwest, noted wryly, “I am the only member of my clan living on the other side of the continent. Much of my family believes I’ve moved to Japan.”

    Howard earned a...

  56. Mary Johnston (November 21, 1870–May 9, 1936)
    (pp. 303-306)
    Mary Johnston

    Mary Johnston was born in Buchanan, Virginia, the daughter of a Confederate veteran. The eldest of six children, she was schooled at home until the age of sixteen, when her mother’s death forced her to take over the management of the Johnston household. The family moved to New York City for a time, and though Johnston later traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, western Virginia remained her home for most of her life.

    Johnston published poetry, short stories, a drama, and even a volume of history, but she was best known as a historical novelist. Her most popular...

  57. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (May 1, 1830?–November 30, 1930)
    (pp. 307-310)
    Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

    Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, labor organizer and union gadfly, was born in Ireland in the 1830s. Her father’s anti-British activities forced the family to flee to the United States where Jones worked as a schoolteacher in Memphis, and later, as a dressmaker in Chicago. In 1861, she married George E. Jones, an iron molder and staunch unionist.

    When a yellow-fever epidemic swept Chicago in 1867, Jones’s husband and all four of her children died. Five years later, her home and dressmaking business were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.

    Made homeless by circumstance, she remained homeless by choice, dedicating her...

  58. Jane Wilson Joyce (July 17, 1947– )
    (pp. 311-314)
    Jane Wilson Joyce

    Poet Jane Wilson Joyce grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. Her mother is a painter and a native of England, and her father spent his entire life in upper East Tennessee. “What with his stories, and her habit of looking, I found a lot of what I needed in their relationship to the region—how they helped me see and be there,” says Joyce.

    Joyce earned a B.A. in Latin from Bryn Mawr College in 1969, an M.A. in Greek from the University of Texas in 1972, and her Ph.D. in classics from the University of Texas in 1982.

    Her poetry...

  59. May Justus (May 12, 1898–November 7, 1989)
    (pp. 315-318)
    May Justus

    A prolific writer of children’s books, May Justus was born in Del Rio, Tennessee. “I am a Smoky Mountaineer, born and bred, and proud of it,” wrote Justus in the 1950s. “The mountain culture of the past is fading.... The old customs, the folk speech, the ballads, the fiddle tunes, the play party singing games, the herb lore, the weather signs, the nonsense rhymes, the tall tales, even the riddles—you’ll find them in the books I’ve written for a quarter of a century.”

    Justus attended the University of Tennessee, then taught school in rural Tennessee and Kentucky. A community...

  60. Edith Summers Kelley (April 28, 1884–June 9, 1956)
    (pp. 319-322)
    Edith Summers Kelley

    The youngest child of Scottish immigrant parents, Edith Summers was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. By the age of thirteen, she had sold her first story to a local newspaper. She received a scholarship to attend the University of Toronto and graduated with honors in 1903.

    Eager to pursue her ambitions as a writer, she moved to New York City, settled in Greenwich Village, and took her first job on the staff of Funk & Wagnall’sStandard Dictionary.In 1905, she answered a newspaper ad and began work as secretary to novelist Upton Sinclair, author ofThe Jungle.She...

  61. Leatha Kendrick (June 27, 1949– )
    (pp. 323-329)
    Leatha Kendrick

    Poet Leatha Kendrick was born in her mother’s hometown of Granite City, Illinois, but spent most of her childhood in her father’s native Kentucky. “I have always had this dual sense of ‘home,’” says Kendrick. “I come from farming people, so I felt rooted in both the red clay of Kentucky and the black loam along the Mississippi.”

    Kendrick earned a B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Kentucky in 1971, and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, in 1977. In 1994, she received an M.F.A. in poetry from Vermont College.

    Kendrick has taught...

  62. Barbara Kingsolver (April 8, 1955– )
    (pp. 330-337)
    Barbara Kingsolver

    Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Maryland, but spent most of her childhood in eastern Kentucky. In 1977, she graduated, magna cum laude, from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, with a degree in biology, then earned an M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona in 1981. After graduate school, Kingsolver worked at the University of Arizona as a technical writer and, later, worked as a freelance journalist, writing for magazines ranging fromRedbooktoSmithsonian.She is married to musician and biologist Steven Hopp and has two daughters.

    Beset with insomnia while pregnant with her first...

  63. Lisa Koger (September 6, 1953– )
    (pp. 338-345)
    Lisa Koger

    One of three children of Anne Vannoy Jones, a teacher and homemaker, and Eldred Jones, a welder, Lisa Koger grew up in Gilmer County, West Virginia. She married Jerry L. Koger, an engineer, in 1974, the same year that she graduated with honors from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She studied journalism at the University of Tennessee, earning a master’s degree in 1979, and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1989.

    She has received awards for her writing from James Michener and the Copernicus Society of America (1989),...

  64. Catherine Landis (June 9, 1956– )
    (pp. 346-352)
    Catherine Landis

    Novelist Catherine Landis is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After graduating from Davidson College in 1978 with a B.A. in English, she spent several years as a newspaper reporter in New Bern, North Carolina, before moving on to a job in the promotions department at Kentucky Educational Television (KET). She resides in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her husband and two sons.

    Landis’s first novel,Some Days There’s Pie,was published in 2002, to critical acclaim. Fred Chappell wrote, “With its strongly engaging characters, suspenseful story, and limpid, evocative style, Catherine Landis’ novel is first-rate.... Landis should take pride—and prizes.” Reviewer...

  65. Lily May Ledford (March 17, 1917–July 14, 1985)
    (pp. 353-357)
    Lily May Ledford

    Lily May Ledford, author, musician, and storyteller, was a founding member of the Coon Creek Girls, the country’s first all-woman string band. The seventh of fourteen children born to an eastern Kentucky farm family, Ledford’s childhood was filled with traditional mountain activities—ginseng digging, berry picking, fodder pulling, and making music.

    Ledford learned to play a groundhog hide banjo when she was seven. A couple of years later, she traded everything she owned (an old flashlight, a sweater, a sling-shot, and a box of crayons) for a broken fiddle. She whittled new parts for it, then fashioned a bow out...

  66. Grace Lumpkin (March 3, 1891–March 23, 1980)
    (pp. 358-363)
    Grace Lumpkin

    Grace Lumpkin usually gave 1900 or 1901 as the year of her birth, though her younger sister, born in 1897, says that Lumpkin was 88 when she died in 1980. Born in Milledgeville, Georgia, to Annette Caroline Morris Lumpkin and William Wallace Lumpkin, a Civil War veteran, she was the ninth of eleven children. Around the turn of the century, the family lived in Columbia, South Carolina. Moving to a farm in Richland County, South Carolina, around 1910, gave Lumpkin firsthand experiences with sharecroppers.

    In 1911, after graduating from a teacher’s training program at Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, Lumpkin...

  67. George Ella Lyon (April 25, 1949– )
    (pp. 364-373)
    George Ella Lyon

    George Ella Lyon, the daughter of Gladys Fowler Hoskins, a community worker, and Robert Hoskins Jr., a savings and loan officer, is a native of Harlan, Kentucky. “I was born with poor vision and a good ear, into a Southern mountain family and culture rich in stories,” she says. “Early on, I wanted to be a neon sign maker and I still hope to make words that glow.”

    Lyon earned a B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa, from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in 1971. She completed her M.A. in English at the University of Arkansas in 1972, and her...

  68. Linda Parsons Marion (February 5, 1953– )
    (pp. 374-380)
    Linda Parsons Marion

    A Tennessee native who grew up in Nashville and has lived in Knoxville for nearly three decades, Linda Marion fondly remembers her maternal grandmother’s pivotal role in her early years that were punctuated with frequent moves and an unsettled home life. “I always felt I was in the calm eye of the storm when I was with her.”

    Marion completed her B.A. (1988) and M.A. (1991) in English at the University of Tennessee, where she works as an editor and policy coordinator for the University of Tennessee’s internal audit department. “Although editing provides my bread and butter and occasionally concert...

  69. Catherine Marshall (September 27, 1914–March 18, 1983)
    (pp. 381-385)
    Catherine Marshall

    Sarah Catherine Wood Marshall was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, the daughter of Leonara Whitaker Wood, a teacher, and John Ambrose Wood, a minister. Her parents met while working at a mission school in the mountain community of Del Rio, Tennessee, and Marshall used their experiences as the basis for her best-selling novel,Christy.

    Marshall graduated from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1936, and that same year married a promising young minister, Peter Marshall, a native of Scotland whose powerful sermonizing led to his appointment as the chaplain of the United States Senate.

    Peter Marshall served as Senate...

  70. Belinda Ann Mason (July 2, 1958–September 9, 1991)
    (pp. 386-390)
    Belinda Ann Mason

    Journalist and short story author Belinda Ann Mason was a native of Letcher County, Kentucky. “I was born with the mountains in my blood,” said Mason. “I could hear music when people talked.”

    Mason earned a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kentucky in 1980, worked in public relations for a time, then settled into a journalism career, writing for two weekly papers: first for theOhio County Times-Newsin Hartford, Kentucky, and later for theAppalachian News-Expressin Pikeville, Kentucky. Her short stories appeared inThe American VoiceandAppalachian Heritage,and the Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded...

  71. Kathy L. May (October 17, 1952– )
    (pp. 391-395)
    Kathy L. May

    Kathy L. May was born in southern Ohio but spent her childhood in Floyd County, Kentucky. “Some of my earliest memories are of the frequent floods that devastated that area of eastern Kentucky,” says May. “My first serious poem, ‘Rain,’ was about those floods.”

    May earned a B.S. in psychology in 1974 from the University of Louisville, and an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1987 from Indiana University, where she was the recipient of the first Samuel Yellen Fellowship. In 1997, she won theWind Magazineshort fiction competition. Other awards include a poetry grant from the Kentucky Foundation for...

  72. Truda Williams McCoy (February 3, 1902–1974)
    (pp. 396-399)
    Truda Williams McCoy

    Truda Williams McCoy was the eldest of seven children of Charlotte Casebolt Williams and James T. Williams. Born in Pikeville, Kentucky, she grew up there and recalled spending much of her childhood helping to care for younger sisters and brothers. She learned to read and write before starting school and wrote her first poem when she was five years old. She graduated from the local high school and Pikeville Teacher’s College.

    She married Rex Calvin McCoy in 1924, and two years later their son, Rex Samuel, was born. In 1930, she had twins, Paul Ronald and Judith Diana.

    A prolific...

  73. Sharyn McCrumb (February 26, 1948– )
    (pp. 400-406)
    Sharyn McCrumb

    Novelist Sharyn McCrumb grew up in Burlington, North Carolina, but hearing tales of her pioneer ancestors from her father, she became enamored with mountain culture at a young age. “It’s in the blood,” she says, noting that her father’s family settled in western North Carolina in the 1790s. “I found that all the tales and memories of substance come from that side of the family.”

    McCrumb graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech in 1985. She has worked as a newspaper editor and a journalism instructor, but has...

  74. Jeanne McDonald (May 31, 1935– )
    (pp. 407-412)
    Jeanne McDonald

    A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Jeanne McDonald graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.A. in English and had dreams of being a writer. When some of her early stories were rejected, she settled for occasional writing, coupled with marriage, motherhood, and a career teaching high school English. After raising her three children, she returned to the work force as an editor for the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    When McDonald signed up for a creative writing class taught by novelist Alan Cheuse at the University of Tennessee, all of...

  75. Karen Salyer McElmurray (September 12, 1956– )
    (pp. 413-418)
    Karen Salyer McElmurray

    Karen Salyer McElmurray was born in eastern Kentucky, “where my writing began,” she says. “When I was nine years old, I’d visit my grandmother in Johnson County during the summers and I became friends with Vicky Cantrell [now Hayes], the girl across the road. She played twelve-string guitar and wrote songs and poems. I wanted to do these things too, so I began to write poetry. Later, after I grew up in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the central part of the state, Johnson County remained my spiritual and emotional homeplace.... When I close my eyes and think of ‘home,’ I think...

  76. Llewellyn McKernan (July 12, 1941– )
    (pp. 419-427)
    Llewellyn McKernan

    Poet and children’s author Llewellyn McKernan is a native of Arkansas who has set down roots in West Virginia. She is married to poet John McKernan, and the couple has one daughter. McKernan earned her B.A. in English from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, in 1963, followed by an M.A. in English from the University of Arkansas in 1966. In 1976 she completed an M.A. in creative writing from Brown University. Her thesis was a collection of poetry,The Blue Ball and Other Poems.

    Says McKernan, “I have lived longer in Appalachia than anywhere else on earth. It is home...

  77. Irene McKinney (April 20, 1939– )
    (pp. 428-434)
    Irene McKinney

    “I’m a hillbilly, a woman, and a poet,” says Irene McKinney, “and I understood early on that nobody was going to listen to anything I had to say anyway, so I might as well just say what I want to.” She has said what she wanted in four collections of poetry. In 1985, she was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. She has also been awarded a West Virginia Commission on the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. In 1994, she was named Poet Laureate of West Virginia.

    Born in Belington, West Virginia, where she currently lives,...

  78. Louise McNeill (January 9, 1911–June 16, 1993)
    (pp. 435-441)
    Louise McNeill

    Poet Louise McNeill was born in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, on a farm that was settled by her ancestors in 1769. She earned an A.B. degree from Concord College in Athens, West Virginia, and, at the age of nineteen, began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. She later earned a master’s degree from Miami of Ohio, and a Ph.D. in history from West Virginia University.

    In 1938, McNeill won theAtlantic MonthlyPoetry Award and was invited to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference where she studied with Robert Frost. In the fall of 1938, McNeill was awarded a fellowship to the...

  79. Jane Merchant (November 1, 1919–January 2, 1972)
    (pp. 442-444)
    Jane Merchant

    Jane Hess Merchant, one of four children of Donia Swann Merchant and Clarence Leroy Merchant, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she lived all her life. Debilitated by a bone disease, Merchant spent her adult life in bed, writing poetry that ranged from humorous reflections to religious meditations. When she became deaf in the final years of her life, she relied on the written word as her primary means of communication.

    More than fifteen hundred of her poems have been published in newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada, and England.

    Her talent has been acknowledged by awards from...

  80. Emma Bell Miles (October 19, 1879–March 19, 1919)
    (pp. 445-448)
    Emma Bell Miles

    Writer and painter Emma Bell Miles was born to Martha Ann Mirick Bell and Benjamin Franklin Bell. Her mother was visiting relatives in Evanston, Illinois, away from their home along the Ohio River in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, when she gave birth to twins. Miles’s brother lived only one day. Both parents were teachers and strict Presbyterians. Because of her frail health, Miles was educated mostly at home, where she learned at a young age to read and enjoy nature studies with her mother.

    In hopes that a climate change would improve her health, the family moved south in 1891 to...

  81. Heather Ross Miller (September 15, 1939– )
    (pp. 449-454)
    Heather Ross Miller

    Poet and novelist Heather Ross Miller was born in Albemarle, North Carolina. Both her father, Fred Ross, and her uncle, James Ross, were novelists, and Miller’s aunt Eleanor, herself a poet, married acclaimed fiction writer Peter Taylor. “I took it as natural,” says Miller, “this business of finding stories and poems in everyday affairs.”

    Miller earned her B.A. in English in 1961 and her M.F.A. in 1969, both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also did postgraduate work in modern drama and cinema at the University of London, and taught at several North Carolina colleges, as well...

  82. Janice Townley Moore (April 29, 1939– )
    (pp. 455-458)
    Janice Townley Moore

    Poet Janice Townley Moore has lived in Hayesville, in the western North Carolina mountains, and in north Georgia, where she has taught classes in writing and literature at Young Harris College since 1963. She says, “No matter what the subject, the mountains sometimes slip into my poems. The seasons and moods of this region, along with the native wildlife, have definitely given my poems a sense of place.”

    She earned her B.A. from LaGrange College in 1961 and her M.A. from Auburn University in 1963. She studied further at Emory University, Georgia State University, University of Virginia, and North Georgia...

  83. MariJo Moore (August 24, 1952– )
    (pp. 459-467)
    MariJo Moore

    Poet and fiction writer MariJo Moore is of eastern Cherokee, Irish, and Dutch ancestry. She grew up in western Tennessee and says about her childhood, “I grew up in an alcoholic home with a white stepfather who did not like the idea that I had Indian blood. Reading was my only escape as I grew older, and of course, this fueled my love of writing.” Her first poem was published when she was sixteen. Her goal as a writer, she explains, is to “make use of all I have survived to give strength and hope to others.”

    She attended Tennessee...

  84. Mary Noailles Murfree (January 24, 1850–July 31, 1922)
    (pp. 468-471)
    Mary Noailles Murfree

    The daughter of Fanny Priscilla Dickinson Murfree, who inherited plantations in Tennessee and Mississippi, and William Law Murfree, a successful attorney and published writer, Mary Noailles Murfree was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a town named for her great-grandfather.

    Although a childhood illness had left her lame from the age of four, she enjoyed spending summers in the Cumberland Mountains, at her family’s cottage in Beersheba Springs. There, she and her elder sister, Fanny, observed the place and met the mountain people who became the subjects of her local color fiction.

    After the family moved to Nashville in 1857, Murfree attended...

  85. Elaine Fowler Palencia (March 19, 1946– )
    (pp. 472-477)
    Elaine Fowler Palencia

    Having grown up in Morehead, Kentucky, in the 1950s, where her mother taught at the county high school and her father taught at Morehead State College (now a university), Elaine Fowler Palencia recalls receiving very little emphasis on Appalachia in her formal education. When she was sixteen, her family moved to Cookeville, Tennessee. She graduated from Vanderbilt University, magna cum laude, with a B.A. in 1968, where she studied English literature with Allen Tate.

    She lives in Champaign, Illinois, with her husband, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Illinois, and her son, who attends special education classes....

  86. Jayne Anne Phillips (July 19, 1952– )
    (pp. 478-486)
    Jayne Anne Phillips

    Jayne Anne Phillips was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia, the daughter of Martha Jane Thornhill Phillips, a teacher, and Russell R. Phillips, a contractor. Although she left the region after college, much of her work is set in Appalachia. “No one has labeled Phillips as a Southern writer or a woman writer,” wrote literary critic Dorothy Combs Hill. “Her relentless intelligence breaks those boundaries. And, although her fiction set in West Virginia is evocative of place, it feels universal.”

    Phillips graduated, magna cum laude, with a B.A. from West Virginia University in 1974, then earned an M.F.A. from the University...

  87. Lynn Powell (October 11, 1955– )
    (pp. 487-493)
    Lynn Powell

    Poet Lynn Powell grew up in Jefferson City, Tennessee, graduated from Carson-Newman College in 1977 and earned her M.F.A. at Cornell University in 1980. Her first collection of poetry,Old & New Testaments,won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin Press. She is also recipient of the 1996 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award.

    She has worked as a writer in the schools for twenty years, in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Ohio, in rural, urban, and suburban schools, with residencies ranging from seminars with auditioned high school students to collaborations with a modern dancer in...

  88. Barbara Presnell (April 8, 1954– )
    (pp. 494-500)
    Barbara Presnell

    For generations, Barbara Presnell’s family has lived in the rolling hills of Randolph County, North Carolina, where she was born and grew up. “Family,” she claims, “both my nuclear and my large, extended family, past and present, is perhaps the most important ingredient to my sanity and success, insanity and failure. My birth family and kin, though many are long dead, continue to inspire and limit me.”

    She completed two degrees in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro: a B.A. in 1976, as well as an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1979. She also earned an M.A....

  89. Rita Sims Quillen (September 8, 1954– )
    (pp. 501-507)
    Rita Sims Quillen

    Poet Rita Quillen’s roots go five generations deep in the hills of southwest Virginia. She was born in Hiltons, Virginia, and grew up on the family farm in Scott County first settled by her great-great-grandparents. She received both her B.S. (1978) and her M.A. in English (1985) from East Tennessee State University. Married to her “high school sweetheart,” Quillen has two children.

    Her M.A. thesis,Looking for Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry,published by the Appalachian Consortium Press in 1989, remains an indispensable reference work. Other contributions to Appalachian literature include her work as associate editor forA Southern Appalachian...

  90. Jean Ritchie (December 8, 1922– )
    (pp. 508-512)
    Jean Ritchie

    The youngest of fourteen children, Jean Ritchie grew up surrounded by music. In the evenings, her family gathered on the porch of their farmhouse in Viper, Kentucky, to sing and to tell tales. Ritchie’s father taught her how to play the lap dulcimer when she was only five years old.

    Ritchie graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1946 with a degree in social work, then moved to New York City and worked in a settlement house, intending to return eventually to Kentucky to establish much-needed social services in her native state. While in New York, her music brought her...

  91. Elizabeth Madox Roberts (October 30, 1881–March 13, 1941)
    (pp. 513-516)
    Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    Poet, novelist, and short story writer Elizabeth Madox Roberts was born in Perryville, Kentucky. She was one of eight children of Mary Elizabeth Brent Roberts, a teacher, and Simpson Roberts, a teacher, a store owner, and a surveyor. Her great-grandmother arrived in Kentucky on the Wilderness Road. When Roberts was three, she moved with her family to the place she considered her home for the rest of her life, Springfield, Kentucky. As poet George Ella Lyon describes her in the introduction toOld Wounds, New Words(1994), “Roberts ... is a central Kentucky native whose work often deals with Appalachian...

  92. Anne Newport Royall (June 11, 1769–October 1, 1854)
    (pp. 517-520)
    Anne Newport Royall

    Some sources identify Anne Newport Royall as the first female American newspaper journalist. A dubious legend has it that she once caught President John Quincy Adams skinny dipping in the Potomac and sat on his clothes until he agreed to an exclusive interview. Though their mutual friendship makes the story’s credibility questionable, she had a reputation for being a strong-willed woman.

    The daughter of loyalist William Newport, she was born near Baltimore, Maryland, before the American Revolution, and grew up on the western Pennsylvania frontier, in Westmoreland County. When her father died, her mother Mary, a Virginia native about whom...

  93. Cynthia Rylant (June 6, 1954– )
    (pp. 521-525)
    Cynthia Rylant

    Cynthia Rylant was born in Hopewell, Virginia, and grew up in the mountains of Raleigh County, West Virginia, surrounded by the warmth of a family who lived on the edge of poverty. She is the daughter of a nurse, Leatrel Rylant, and an army sergeant, John Tune. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she spent some of her childhood with her grandparents while her mother was in nursing school. “I grew up reading comic books because there was no library in my town or in my school, and I did not enter a public library until I was...

  94. Bettie Sellers (March 30, 1926– )
    (pp. 526-533)
    Bettie Sellers

    Poet Bettie M. Sellers was born in Tampa, Florida, and was raised in Griffin, Georgia. She moved to the Georgia highlands in 1965 when she and her husband accepted teaching positions at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia.

    Sellers received her B.A. from La Grange College in 1958, and her M.A. from the University of Georgia in 1966. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from La Grange College in 1991. Sellers retired from the faculty at Young Harris in 1996. In 1997, she was named Poet Laureate of Georgia.

    The author of seven books of poetry, Sellers...

  95. Mary Lee Settle (July 29, 1918– )
    (pp. 534-542)
    Mary Lee Settle

    Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Mary Lee Settle’s childhood was divided between West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, where her father worked as a civil engineer. She attended Sweet Briar College from 1936 to 1938, then worked at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia, where she was “discovered” and sent to Hollywood to be screen-tested for the movieGone With the Wind.After returning from California, she spent a year modeling in New York. In 1942 she traveled to England to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, a branch of the Royal Air Force, an experience she recounts inAll the...

  96. Anne Shelby (September 25, 1948– )
    (pp. 543-548)
    Anne Shelby

    Essayist, poet, children’s author, and playwright Anne Shelby is a native of eastern Kentucky. Both of her parents were schoolteachers, and Shelby notes that during her childhood, “Most of the people I knew were schoolteachers or farmers. I didn’t know anybody who was a writer.”

    Shelby received her B.A. in English from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in 1970, and her M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky in 1981. She has worked as an editor of theMountain Reviewand taught creative writing for the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence program. She...

  97. Muriel Earley Sheppard (1898–1951)
    (pp. 549-553)
    Muriel Earley Sheppard

    Born in Andover, New York, Muriel Earley Sheppard, an English major with a degree from Alfred University, moved with her mining engineer husband to the mining town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina, in 1927. According to novelist John Ehle, who wrote the foreword to the 1991 edition of her work,Cabins in the Laurel,she viewed herself as “progressive.” As evidence, he offers that she read the latest magazines, entertained in ways foreign to her North Carolina neighbors, and wore men’s trousers. She also had ambitions for a project that few in Mitchell County had ever attempted—she wanted to...

  98. Betsy Sholl (June 12, 1945– )
    (pp. 554-559)
    Betsy Sholl

    Poet Betsy Sholl grew up in Brick Town, New Jersey, and was educated at Bucknell University (B.A., 1967), University of Rochester (M.A., 1969), and Vermont College (M.F.A., 1989). In 1976 she moved from Boston to a doublewide trailer on Clinch Haven farm near Big Stone Gap, Virginia, when her husband took a job as a probation officer in Wise County, Virginia. Although her sojourn in Appalachia lasted only seven years, she says the experience was profoundly enriching, both personally and poetically.

    “Any growth I’ve experienced since that time has occurred only because those years prepared me, gave me a sense...

  99. Ellen Harvey Showell (October 26, 1934– )
    (pp. 560-564)
    Ellen Harvey Showell

    Ellen Harvey Showell was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, and grew up in Monroe and Greenbrier counries in West Virginia. The daughter of a teacher, Elizabeth Hudson Harvey, and a cabinet maker, Clarence Ballard Harvey, she married John S. Showell and has one son, Michael, who publishes theMountain Messenger,a weekly newspaper in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

    After graduating with a B.A. from Berea College in Kentucky in 1957, she moved several years later to Washington, D.C., and worked as an advertising and a public relations writer. Holding jobs in a housing market research company and in the Federal Office of...

  100. Bennie Lee Sinclair (April 15, 1939–May 22, 2000)
    (pp. 565-569)
    Bennie Lee Sinclair

    South Carolina Poet Laureate, Bennie Lee Sinclair, was the ninth generation of her family to live in the mountainous upstate region of South Carolina.

    At Furman University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, she met Don Lewis, and in 1958 they married. They built a small cabin on two acres given to them as a wedding present and held part-time jobs in addition to their work scholarships. Sinclair edited Furman’s literary magazine, picked peaches, gardened, and collaborated with her freelance photographer husband on occasional projects.

    Throughout the 1960s, Sinclair’s husband supported them as a professional potter, as she faced the...

  101. Verna Mae Slone (October 9, 1914– )
    (pp. 570-573)
    Verna Mae Slone

    Verna Mae Slone grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, near the town of Pippa Passes. Her formal education ended before she had completed high school because her family needed her to work.

    She wrote her first book,What My Heart Wants to Tell,when she was in her sixties. The original manuscript was written in longhand and intended for her grandchildren, because “so many lies and half-truths have been written about us, the mountain people.”

    When excerpts of Slone’s reminiscences were read on National Public Radio, an editor at New Republic Books asked to publish the entire manuscript....

  102. Barbara Smith (March 21, 1929– )
    (pp. 574-578)
    Barbara Smith

    Barbara Smith was born in Wisconsin but has lived in West Virginia for much of her adult life. She and her husband moved from New York City in 1960 to take teaching positions at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia, “because we both wanted to teach in a church-related liberal arts college away from the city streets.”

    Smith earned degrees from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin. She has published more than three hundred poems, short stories, and articles in a wide variety of publications includingAntietam Review, English Journal, and Appalachian Heritage.She has published...

  103. Effie Waller Smith (January 6, 1879–January 2, 1960)
    (pp. 579-582)
    Effie Waller Smith

    Eastern Kentucky poet Effie Waller Smith was the daughter of Sibbie and Frank Waller, former slaves who saw to it that all of their children received an education, even though educational opportunities at the turn of the century for black and white students in Pike County, Kentucky, were extremely limited. Smith and her siblings all attended local segregated state schools and then earned teaching certificates at the Kentucky State Normal School for Colored Persons in Frankfort.

    Smith was writing poetry by the time she was sixteen. Her diction reflects her reading of classical literature as well as popular, contemporary writers...

  104. Lee Smith (November 1, 1944– )
    (pp. 583-590)
    Lee Smith

    Fiction writer Lee Smith was born in mountainous southwest Virginia, in the town of Grundy, where her family goes back four generations. Her mother, Virginia Marshall Smith, a home economics teacher from eastern Virginia, married Ernest Lee Smith, a businessman who owned a Ben Franklin department store. She went to boarding school at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond and then to Hollins College. During the summer of 1966, inspired by Huck Finn, she and thirteen other Hollins College women took a raft trip from Paducah, Kentucky, to New Orleans; the trip was the inspiration for Smith’s most recent novel,The...

  105. Jane Stuart (August 20, 1942– )
    (pp. 591-595)
    Jane Stuart

    Poet, short story writer, and novelist Jane Stuart was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the daughter of well-known author Jesse Stuart. She describes her childhood home in Greenup, Kentucky, as a log cabin which had “ten rooms ... with books in eight of them.” Stuart says, “My writing was always influenced by Appalachia. I never tried to ‘get away’ or write about anything that did not relate in some way to home.”

    Stuart earned an A.B., magna cum laude, from Case Western University in 1964, then went on to complete two master’s degrees in classical languages, as well as a Ph.D....

  106. Adriana Trigiani
    (pp. 596-601)
    Adriana Trigiani

    Adriana Trigiani, the third of seven children in an Italian-American family, moved from Pennsylvania to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, at the age of six, when her parents, Ida and Anthony Trigiani, settled there and opened a garment factory. “She didn’t like to weave,” notes her mother, “but Adri was creative in different ways.” Trigiani had a way with words, and by the age of sixteen, she was a roving reporter for WNVA radio in Norton, Virginia.

    Trigiani graduated from Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Theatre Program in South Bend, Indiana, having written and directed her own play,Notes from the Nile,as...

  107. Dana Wildsmith (July 17, 1952– )
    (pp. 602-607)
    Dana Wildsmith

    Poet Dana Wildsmith was born in Macon, Georgia. She grew up in rural Georgia, the daughter of a Methodist minister who was a social activist. She married at nineteen and attended Tusculum College, the University of Tennessee, and Virginia Wesleyan College, moving as often as her husband’s duties with the Navy required. She graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College with a B.A in sociology in 1986. She and her husband now live in north Georgia on her family’s land, where their home is a one-hundred-year-old converted cotton barn.

    She has worked as a writer, an editor, and a workshop leader throughout...

  108. Sylvia Wilkinson (April 3, 1940– )
    (pp. 608-612)
    Sylvia Wilkinson

    The only writer in this book to have served as a motorsports correspondent forAutoweekand as timer/scorer for Paul Newman’s race team, Sylvia Wilkinson has impressively diverse interests and talents.

    Born in Durham, North Carolina, to Peggy George Wilkinson and Thomas Noell Wilkinson, she excelled in horseback riding and painting as a child and won district tennis championships as a teenager. During her college years, she studied with and received the encouragement of noted writers Randall Jarrell and Louis Rubin. She completed a B.A. in painting and English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1962, and...

  109. Meredith Sue Willis (May 31, 1946– )
    (pp. 613-623)
    Meredith Sue Willis

    Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Meredith Sue Willis spent her youth in the coal-mining town of Shinnston, West Virginia, where the residents, she explains, “were as likely to be Italian or Spanish or Lebanese as Scotch-Irish.” She has become an articulate, outspoken voice against homogeneous portrayals of Appalachian people.

    Her maternal grandmother, Pearl Barnhardt Meredith, was a mining-camp midwife, and her maternal grandfather, Carl Meredith, was a coal miner. Her paternal grandparents tended coal company stores in Coeburn, Virginia; Burdine and Jenkins, Kentucky; and Owings, West Virginia. “This tendency to associate moving on with bettering yourself seems to be a...

  110. Leigh Allison Wilson (October 23, 1957– )
    (pp. 624-627)
    Leigh Allison Wilson

    Short story author Leigh Allison Wilson is a native of Rogersville, Tennessee. She earned a B.A., magna cum laude, from Williams College in 1979 and did graduate work at the University of Virginia from 1979 to 1981. In 1983, Wilson received an M.F.A., with honors, from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book, a collection of short stories,From the Bottom Up,was awarded the first annual Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction from the University of Georgia Press in 1983.

    Wilson’s work, which is frequently set in the mountains of East Tennessee, features characters who are endearingly...

  111. Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon (June 14, 1919– )
    (pp. 628-634)
    Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon

    A native of Florida, Mary Elizabeth Rhyne Witherspoon graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1941 with an A.B. in drama. “I’d intended to be an actress,” says Witherspoon, “but my collegiate studies in drama turned out to be training for writing fiction.” She married Jack Witherspoon, an engineer, in 1942, and the couple moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

    Witherspoon built a career as a freelance writer while raising three sons. In 1963, she earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Tennessee and later served as a history instructor at the University of Tennessee and Knoxville College....

  112. More Women Writing in Appalachia Other Voices to Study
    (pp. 635-646)
  113. A Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 647-652)
  114. Index of Titles and Authors
    (pp. 653-662)
  115. Permissions
    (pp. 663-673)