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Novelist Ellen Douglas dies at age 91

Mississippi writer Josephine Ayres Haxton, who published novels and short stories under the pen name Ellen Douglas, died Wednesday, Nov. 7, at her home in Jackson. She was 91.

Born Josephine Chamberlain Ayres in Natchez in 1921, she grew up in Arkansas and Louisiana but spent summers with her grandparents in Natchez and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1942. Her marriage to Kenneth Haxton, with whom she had three children, ended in divorce.

She wrote 11 books, six of which were novels, including Apostles of Light, a 1973 nominee for the National Book Award. Other books include The Rock Cried Out (1979), about Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964; Can’t Quit You Baby (1988), which depicted the relationship between an aging white woman and her black maid; and A Familys Affairs, her first novel published in 1962 which was praised by the New York Times as one of that year’s best novels.

Other works by Douglas include the novel A Lifetime Burning (1982) and Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell (1998), a collection of autobiographical nonfiction.

She is survived by her three sons: Brooks Haxton, Ayres Haxton, and Richard Haxton; and by a brother, Richardson Ayres; a sister, Archer Postlethwaite; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Related Links

Ellen Douglas, Novelist of Southern Life, Dies at 91,” by Margalit Fox, The New York Times (12 November 2012).

Writer Joseph Haxton, aka ‘Ellen Douglas,’ dead at 91,” by Emily Lane, The [Jackson, Miss.] Clarion-Ledger (8 November 2012).

Mississippi author Ellen Douglas dies at 91,” by Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press (7 November 2012).

Ellen Douglas, Mississippi novelist, dies at 91,” by Matt Schudel, The Washington Post (10 November 2012).


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