(Josephine Ayres Haxton)
Writing under the pseudonym
Ellen Douglas, Josephine Ayres Haxton has published numerous short
stories and novels set in a fictional Mississippi county, Homochito
County. Josephine Ayres was born July 12, 1921, in Natchez, Mississippi,
and grew up in Louisiana and Arkansas. She attended Randolph Macon
Women's College from 1938-39 and the University of Mississippi,
from which she earned a B.A. in 1942. In 1945 she married Kenneth
Haxton, with whom she had three children: Richard, Ayres, and Brooks.
She died Nov. 7, 2012, at the age of 91.
Her fiction, published under the pen name
Ellen Douglas, includes two collections of short stories
Black Cloud, White Cloud: Two Novellas and Two Stories (1963)
and The Magic Carpet (1987) and six novels. Her first
novel, A Family's Affairs (1962) was named one of the ten
best fiction titles of the year by The New York Times, as
was Black Cloud, White Cloud. In 1968 she published Where
the Dreams Cross, and in 1973 she published Apostles of
Light, which was nominated for a National Book Award.
She received Mississippi Institute of Arts
and Letters Awards in literature for The Rock Cried Out (1979)
and A Lifetime Burning (1982), as well as grants from National
Educational Association for The Rock Cried Out and Can't
Quit You, Baby (1988). In 1989, she was honored for her body
of work by the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Her most recent work is Truth: Four
Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell, a nonfiction book based
on stories and legends in her own family's history.
Article first posted May
updated 12 Nov. 2012
Links & Info
Arts Commission features Ellen Douglas in a page
about narrative in its online exhibit Crossroads
of the Heart: Creativity and Tradition in Mississippi. The
page features audio of Douglas reading part of her essay "Grant."
- A Family's Affairs. Boston: Houghton, 1962.
- Black Cloud, White Cloud: Two Novellas and Two Stories.
(Short stories.) Boston: Houghton, 1963. Illustrated by
Elizabeth Wolfe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,1989.
- Where the Dreams Cross. Boston: Houghton, 1968.
- Apostles of Light. New York: Houghton, 1973. With
an introduction by Elizabeth Spencer. Jackson: Banner Books, 1994.
- The Rock Cried Out. New York: Harcourt, 1979.
- A Lifetime Burning. Boston: Random House, 1982.
- The Magic Carpet. (Short stories.) Jackson: University
Press of Mississippi, 1987.
- Can't Quit You, Baby. New York: Atheneum, 1988.
- Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell.
Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books, 1998.
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