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* Publications
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See also:
* Book Info:
Eudora Welty: A Tribute
(April 1999)
Geronimo Rex
(May 1998)
High Lonesome
(October 1996)
* Writer News:
Novelist Barry Hannah dies at 67
(March 2, 2010)
Hannah nominated for Pulitzer Prize
(November 4, 1996)

Barry Hannah
Barry Hannah

Barry Hannah

He has published numerous novels and short story collections set in the South, but to understand the writer behind his characters one must delve deeply into that unknown region of the mind where shadows take form, where the simple and sublime take on a complexity akin to the human spirit itself.

Hannah was born in Clinton, Mississippi, on April 23, 1942, and earned a B.A. from Mississippi College in 1964. In 1966, he earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas; a year later he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Arkansas and began teaching creative writing at Clemson University in South Carolina, where he remained until 1973. During this time, he earned several impressive awards, including the Bellaman Foundation Award in Fiction (1970) and the Bread Loaf Fellowship for Writing (1971). In 1972, Hannah published his first novel, Geronimo Rex, for which he won the William Faulkner Prize for writing and earned a nomination for the National Book Award. A year later, he came out with Nightwatchmen to positive reviews, and his reputation as a writer to be reckoned with was well under way.

After a one-year position as Writer-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont, he began a five-year position at the University of Alabama teaching literature and creative writing. It was during this time that he wrote and published what many consider to be one of the finest collections of short fiction in the contemporary South, Airships (1978). That same year, Airships won the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award, setting the stage for his receiving the prestigious Award for Literature from the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1979.

As with fellow native Mississippian William Faulkner, Hollywood beckoned Hannah and in 1980 he moved there to write film scripts for director Robert Altman. Also in 1980, Ray found publication. Hollywood did not seem to suit Hannah, so he began to take several one-year positions as Writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa (1981), the University of Mississippi (1982), and the University of Montana-Missoula (1983).

In 1983, Hannah published The Tennis Handsome and returned to the University of Mississippi as Writer-in-residence. After returning to Ole Miss, he continued to publish novels and short story collections to rave reviews, including Captain Maximus (1985), Hey Jack! (1987), Boomerang (1989), Never Die (1991), and Bats Out of Hell (1993). In 1996, Hannah published the short story collection High Lonesome, which has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He followed that in 2001 with a novel, Yonder Stands Your Orphan.

When asked for his perspective on writing and teaching literature and writing by Ole Miss English Department Chair Dan Williams, Hannah responded by saying that "Reading and writing train our people for logic, grace, and precision of thought, and begin a lifelong study of the exceptional in human existence. I think literature is the history of the soul. Writing should be a journey into worthy perception."

In addition to being known for his writing abilities, in his creative writing classes he helped develop writing talents such as Larry Brown, Cynthia Shearer, and Donna Tartt.

Hannah died March 1, 2010, at his home in Oxford, Mississippi. He was 67.

Article updated 2 March 2010

Related Links & Info

Clinton, Mississippi
Find out more about Hannah's birthplace in this website.
Middlebury College, Vermont, home of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference
Middlebury College in Vermont is also the home of the acclaimed Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, which awarded Hannah a writing fellowship in 1971.

High Lonesome
For his 1996 book High Lonesome, Barry Hannah was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.



  • Geronimo Rex. New York: Viking Press, 1972.
  • Nightwatchmen. New York: Viking Press, 1973.
  • Ray. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.
  • The Tennis Handsome. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.
  • Hey Jack!. New York: E. P. Dutton/Seymour Lawrence, 1987.
  • Boomerang. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1989.
  • Never Die. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1991.
  • Yonder Stands Your Orphan. New York: Grove Press, 2001.

Short Story Collections:

  • Airships. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1978.
  • Captain Maximus. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.
  • Bats Out of Hell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1993.
  • High Lonesome. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996.
  • Sick Soldier at Your Door. Forthcoming.


  • "Faulkner and the Small Man." In Faulkner and Humor: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha. Fowler, Doreen, and Ann Abadie, eds. Jackson: UP Mississippi, 1984.
  • Men without Ties. Abbeville Press, 1995.


  • Power and Light: A Novella for the Screen from an Idea by Robert Altman. Small Press Distributors, 1983.


Biographical Sources:

  • Charney, Mark J. Barry Hannah. New York: Twayne, 1992.
  • Contemporary Authors, 108: 204.
  • Gilman, Owen W., Jr. "Barry Hannah (1942- )." In Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Flora, Joseph M., and Robert Bain, eds. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993. 213-21.

Selected Book Reviews and Criticism:

  • Charney, Mark J. Barry Hannah. New York: Twayne, 1992.
  • Crews, Harry. "Carry on, Doctor." Review of Ray. Book World: Washinton Post (16 November 1980).
  • DeMott, Benjamin. "Rudeness Is Our Only Hope." Review of Ray. New York Times Book Review. (16 November 1980): 7, 26.
  • Eder, Richard. "A War Memorial in the Mind." Review of Hey Jack!. Book Review--Los Angeles Times. (6 September 1987): 3, 12.
  • Edwards, Thomas R. "Stolen Loves, Manly Vengeance." Review of Hey Jack!. New York Times Book Review. (1 November 1987): 26.
  • Gold, Ivan. "Yoknapatawpha County of the Mind." Review of The Tennis Handsome. New York Times Book Review. (1 May 1983): 11, 19.
  • Gretland, Jan. "Interview with Barry Hannah." Contemporary Authors 110 (1984): 233-39.
  • Halio, Jay L.. "Violence and After." Southern Review 15 (July 1979): 702-10.
  • Hill, Robert W. "Barry Hannah." South Carolina Review 9.1 (1976): 25-29.
  • Isreal, Charles. "Barry Hannah." In Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Novelists Since World War II. 2d ser, vol. 6. Kibler, James E., Jr., ed. 131-33. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1980.
  • Jackson, Andrew C. "The Fiction of Barry Hannah." Dissertation Abstracts International. 51.10 (April 1991).
  • Jones, John Griffith. "Interview with Barry Hannah." In Mississippi Writers Talking. Jackson: UP Mississippi, 1982.
  • Kaktutani, Michiko. "Books of the Times." Review of Hey Jack!. New York Times (18 November 1987): C-33.
  • Madden, David. "Barry Hannah's Geronimo Rex in Retrospect." Southern Review 19 (1983): 309-16.
  • Malone, Michael. "A Southern Ray of Hope." Review of Ray. Nation (29 November 1980): 585-86.
  • Noble, Donald R. "Tragic and Meaningful to an Insane Degree: Barry Hannah." Southern Literary Review 15.1 (1982): 37-44.
  • Rafferty, Terrence. "Gunsmoke and Voodoo." Review of Captain Maximus. Nation 240 (1985):677-79.
  • Seib, Kenneth. "'Sabers, Gentlemen, Sabers': The J.E.B. Stuart Stories of Barry Hannah." Mississippi Quarterly 45.1 (1991-92 Winter):41-52.
  • Shepherd, Allen. "Outrage and Speculation: Barry Hannah's Airships." Notes on Mississippi Writers 14.2 (1982):63-73.
  • Shepherd, Allen G., III. "The Latest Whiz Bang: Barry Hannah's Captain Maximus." Notes on Mississippi Writers 19.1 (1987): 29-33.
  • Spikes, Michael P. "What's in a Name? A Reading of Barry Hannah's Ray." Mississippi Quarterly 42.1 (1988-89 Winter): 69-82.
  • Stade, George. "Lives of Noisy Desperation." Review of Captain Maximus. New York Times Book Review (9 June 1985):14.
  • Towers, Robert. "Forced Marches." Review of Airships. New York Review of Books (15 June 1978):29-30.
  • Updike, John. "From Dyna-Domes to Turkey Pressing." Review of Geronimo Rex. New Yorker (9 September 1972): 115-24.
  • Vanarsdall, R. "The Spirits Will Win Through: An Interview with Barry Hannah." Southern Review 19 (1983): 314-41.
  • Walton, Gerald W. "Interview: Barry Hannah." Pen World 6.3 (1993 Jan.-Feb.) 26-27, 58.
  • Weston, Ruth D. "'The Whole Lying Truth of It': Dreams, Lies, and Confessions in the Fiction of Barry Hannah." Mississippi Quarterly 44.4 (1991 Fall):411-28.
  • Wolcott, James. "Southern Discomfort." Review of Captain Maximus. New York Times (29 April 1978): 33-34.
  • Wood, Michael. "Southern Comforts." Review of Airships. New York Times Book Review (23 April 1978): 1, 35.
  • Yardley, Jonathan. "Love and Death and Points in Between." Review of Nightwatchmen. New York Review (18 November 1973): 14.

Internet Resources

Online Reviews and Articles:

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