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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for April 19-May 2, 2002.

In this issue:


The following events all happened during these two weeks in Mississippi history.


1702: Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, who led a French expedition to establish a settlement in present-day Mississippi, returned to France, never to return to Louisiana. (April 22)

1800: The U.S. Congress established a post route between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi, along what became known as the Natchez Trace. (April 23)

1807: J. F. H. Claiborne, “the father of Mississippi history,” was born near Natchez, Mississippi. (April 24)

1896: Journalist Mark Foster Ethridge was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (April 22)

1906: Entomologist Ross Elliot Hutchins was born in Ruby, Montana. (April 30)

1910: Philosopher W. T. Jones was born in Natchez, Mississippi. (April 29)

1914: Historian May Spencer Ringold was born in Winona, Mississippi. (May 1)

1925: Leon M. C. Standifer, who published memoirs about his combat experience in World War II, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. (April 24)

1925: William Faulkner published “The Kingdom of God” in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (April 26)

1927: William Faulkner’s novel Mosquitoes was published. (April 30)

1928: Children’s writer Jean Burt Polhamus was born in Mississippi. (April 30)

1929: English professor Ernest Claude Bufkin, Jr., was born in Monticello, Mississippi. (April 27)

1930: William Faulkner published “A Rose for Emily” in Forum. (April 30)

1931: Poet Etheridge Knight was born in Corinth, Mississippi. (April 19)

1932: Methodist minister William R. Lampkin was born in Baldwyn, Mississippi. (April 22)

1933: A Green Bough, a book of poetry by William Faulkner, was published. (April 20)

1934: Henry T. Sampson, who has researched the role of African Americans in entertainment, was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (April 22)

1935: The novel Pylon, by William Faulkner, was published by Harrison Smith and Robert Haas. (April 25)

1936: Theologian Daniel C. Noel was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (April 21)

1937: Tennessee Williams received notification from Washington University that he would not graduate and was placed on academic probation. (April 20)

1938: Educator Chalmers Archer, Jr., was born in Tchula, Mississippi. (April 21)

1940: Novelist Margaret-Love Denman was born in Oxford, Mississippi. (April 25)

1942: Barry Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (April 23)

1943: Cookbook author Mary Lou McCracken was born in Louisville, Mississippi. (April 26)

1945: In the novel Clifford’s Blues, by John A. Williams, the diary kept by the title character, who is a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp Dachau, ends, the same day that the camp was liberated by American forces. (April 28)

1945: Richard Wright’s Black Boy was the number one bestseller in the nation. Later, U.S. Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi would denounce the book as obscene. (April 29)

1946: William Faulkner published “Appendix, Compson, 1699-1945” in The Portable Faulkner. (April 29)

1955: Pulitzer Prizes were awarded to William Faulkner for A Fable and to Tennessee Williams for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. (May 2)

1957: The Town, a novel by William Faulkner and volume two of the Snopes trilogy, was published by Random House. (May 1)

1962: William Faulkner went on a two-day visit to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. (April 19)

1973: “The Grassroot Woman,” a one-act play by T. J. Whitaker, was first performed in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at Baltes Gym. (April 27)

1981: Journalist John Osborne died of emphysema in Washington, D.C. (May 2)

1983: Journalist Turner Catledge died after suffering a stroke in New Orleans. (April 27)


PBS miniseries to show life on the frontier

April 19, 2002

NEW YORK — A new reality series that will show what life was like on the American frontier has connections to Mississippi writer Linda Peavy, who has co-authored a number of historical studies of life on the frontier.

After surviving a competitive selection process, a rigorous training program and a dangerous overland wagon trip, three contemporary American families faced 19th-century life in the Montana wilderness for Frontier House, a six-part “hands-on history” series slated to premiere Monday, April 29, 2002 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

Chosen from over 5,000 applications, the Glenn family of Tennessee, the Clune family of California and the Brooks family of Massachusetts headed west in May and resided there until early October, living as 1880s homesteaders, with only the tools and technology of the period at their disposal.

Throughout their historic adventure, the cameras of Frontier House rolled, revealing the families’ trials, triumphs, simple pleasures, and daily rigors.

“From the early days of The 1900 House, we wanted to take on the stereotypes and myths of the American West,” said executive producer Beth Hoppe. “Every step of the way the production team, the participants and the experts have enthusiastically embraced our concept, and Frontier House explores the reality of everyday life in 1883 at a level of detail that exceeded even my expectations. The story of our families’ experience is at once dramatic, entertaining and educational.”

The drama of this unique experience — which included a June snowstorm, unanticipated weight loss among the families, encounters with bears, and a family sneaking modern cosmetics into their 1883 experience — has also been captured on the series’ companion Web site, now online at and The interactive site features audio and video excerpts from the homesteaders’ adventures, production journal entries, interactive presentations, and historical essays — all of which give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the project.

The Web site will be continuously updated before and throughout the series’ broadcast, allowing viewers to get to know the families, up close and personal, through reflections from their personal diaries. All will offer more insight about these modern homesteaders and the challenges of pioneer life.

Additionally, a companion book to the series, also entitled Frontier House, authored by series producer Simon Shaw with Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, is being published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, the publishing operation of Viacom Inc. Peavy and Smith served as chief historical consultants for the project.

“We're thrilled to offer such a realistic and multi-faceted look at the past. Through the Web site, the series and the book, viewers will be able to vicariously share in a remarkable experience, and literally be able to see history come to life,” said Shaw.

Frontier House is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall To Wall in association with Channel 4 (U.K.). Thirteen’s Beth Hoppe and Wall To Wall’s Alex Graham are executive producers. Simon Shaw, series producer of The 1900 House, again serves in that capacity for this new series.

Funding for Frontier House is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of the role of technology in society. Corporate support is made possible by Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc. and Georgia-Pacific. Funding is also provided by Public Television Viewers and PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

William Ferris, leading Southern culture expert, former NEH chair, joins University of North Carolina faculty

April 23, 2002

Editor’s note: A slightly different version of this article appeared on March 7, 2002, on the University of North Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences web site.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — William R. Ferris, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a widely recognized leader in Southern studies, black music and folklore, is joining the faculty of the University of North Carolina.

He was named professor of history and associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South, effective July 1. He also will be an adjunct professor in the Curriculum in Folklore.

“The appointment of Bill Ferris signals a significant addition to a university that prides itself on scholarship in the humanities, the very soul of Carolina,” said Chancellor James Moeser. “Bill will enhance an already distinguished record of achievement built over many years by faculty, students and staff in the important area of Southern studies.

“We want Chapel Hill to be the leading center in the nation for the study of the American South, not only in terms of its past, but its present and future. Bill’s appointment bridges both the academic and the public service missions of the university.”

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ferris is an award-winning author, folklorist, filmmaker and scholar of Southern culture. Before leading NEH (1997 to 2001), he was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he was a faculty member for 18 years. Since January, he has been a Visiting Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

“Bill Ferris is one of the most outstanding public intellectuals in the United States today,” said Risa Palm, dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. “His knowledge of the roots of American culture — especially Southern and African-American culture — extends deep and wide across the arts and humanities. He will be an extraordinary resource to the university and to the citizens of North Carolina and the region.”

Ferris has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films, most of which deal with black music and other folklore from the Mississippi Delta.

“It is a special honor to be associated with the department of history, the Center for the Study of the American South and the curriculum in folklore,” Ferris said. “Since my undergraduate days at Davidson College in the early ’60s, I have considered the University of North Carolina one of our nation’s greatest universities.

“As a teacher, scholar and administrator, I have focused on the American South for over 32 years, and my travels have often led me to Chapel Hill. I look forward with pleasure to working with students, faculty and administration at the university as part of their distinguished legacy of studying the American South.”

Ferris has won many prestigious honors, including the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities from President Clinton, the American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and the W.C. Handy Blues Award. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the Top Ten Professors in the United States.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in English from Northwestern University. He has also taught at Jackson State University in Mississippi and Yale University.

Medgar Evers papers given to state of Mississippi

April 25, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Speeches and letters of slain civil right leader Medgar Evers were presented today to state historians in a ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.

The presentation was made by Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams. Evers-Williams will also speak later this week to the Conference of Black Mayors meeting in Jackson.

Evers-Williams gave 55 boxes to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

“It was very difficult for me to let the papers go,” Evers-Williams told the audience of about 200 at the ceremony. “I could pick them up and see a little bit of Medgar.”

She said she was donating the papers to Mississippi because she wants scholars — professional and amateur — to make the connection between the civil rights movement and the kind of race relations Mississippi has realized since then.

“This is where they belong,” Ever-Williams said.

Former Gov. William Winter, a longtime member of the Archives and History Board of Trustees, opened the ceremony and told Evers-Williams: “Welcome home, Myrlie.”

Winter said Medgar Evers “gave his life in his quest to free us all — black and white folks alike — from the bondage of racial segregation and discrimination. He was a true hero.”

Evers, field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, was shot from ambush at his home in Jackson in 1963.

Do you have a news item about a Mississippi writer? Please send your information to


The following articles were recently added to the Writer Listings:

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

Frontier HouseFrontier House
By Simon Shaw with Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith
Pocket Books (Hardcover, $29.00, ISBN: 0743442709)
Publication date: May 2002

Description from the publisher:

Go west with PBS in this behind-the-scenes look at the television series that sent modern-day Americans “back in time” to the harsh frontier of 1880s Montana.

America’s period of westward expansion has long captured the imagination of history buffs and adventurous spirits; the era seems to embody the very daring enterprise that made America what it is today. As a result, frontier life has often been romanticized in television and film.

But all of that changed with PBS’s Frontier House. Bringing the trials and triumphs of nineteenth-century homesteaders to life in a way we might never have imagined, Frontier House re-creates life in the wilderness for three households of spirited twenty-first-century Americans and documents their six-month experience for television.

Roughing it on their allotted plots of land while all of America watches, these brave souls relinquish grocery stores, microwaves, and plumbing in favor of raising chickens, churning butter, and outhouses. Gone are all the modern amenities they’re accustomed to. In their place: just the will to do whatever it takes to survive.

Covering the inception of the show, the historical basis for the lifestyle re-created, the selection of the participants, the logistical challenges of production, and the impact of this experiment on the participants — along with profiles of actual nineteenth-century homesteaders — Frontier House is a first-rate companion to one of the most innovative and fascinating reality shows of our time.

Novel IdeasNovel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process
By Margaret-Love Denman and Barbara Shoup
Macmillan (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0028640683)
Publication date: March 2001

Description from Library Journal:

Shoup (Faithful Women) and Denman, the program director of creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, interviewed 23 well-known contemporary authors about the process of crafting fiction to produce this inspirational guide.

A brief introductory section takes the reader through the rudiments of writing, most specifically plot and character development and the importance of revision. This information, especially on the rudiments of writing, has been done better elsewhere (Strunk and White's Elements of Style comes to mind). The interviews, however, are well-crafted pieces that show how well Shoup and Denman did their homework. Speaking with Tony Hillerman, Alice McDermott, Jane Smiley, Michael Chabon, and others, the authors draw out very personal responses not only about specific approaches to the creative process but also about how characters evolve and how novels come together. The authors share the motivation, exhilaration, fear, and frustration that transform ideas into words and words into stories.

While not a high-priority purchase, this would be a good addition to writing workshop reading lists. Readers of popular fiction might also enjoy this work, as major writers offer insights into their modus operandi. —Denise Sticha, Murrysville Community Lib., PA. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

April 27: Double Decker Arts Festival, Courthouse Square, Oxford, Mississippi, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The 7th annual community celebration, featuring music, arts, crafts, food, games and other live entertainment. Taking its name from the town’s authentic double decker bus imported from England in 1994, the festival draws over 40,000 people for day-long festivities on the picturesque Courthouse Square in downtown Oxford. For more information, contact the Oxford Tourism Council at 1-800-758-9177, or visit the festival web site,

April 27: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Children’s book writer Laurie Parker will give a reading at Square Books in Oxford from her new book, The Turtle Saver. It’s the story of a man who stops on the Natchez Trace to move a turtle off the pavement and ends up setting off a hilarious chain of events. For more information, go to

April 30: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:00 p.m.

Music historian Bill Malone will talk about his new book called Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music and the Southern Working Class. For more information, go to

April 30: Old Chemistry Auditorium, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Mississippi writer Greg Iles will give a reading and lecture sponsored by the John & Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and Department of English. Iles is the author of six novels, including 24 Hours and Dead Sleep. For more information on Iles, visit his web site at

May 2: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:00 p.m.

Tupelo, Mississippi, native Joe Edd Morris will read from his debut novel, Land Where My Fathers Died, at Square Books in Oxford. Visit for details.

July 21-26: 29th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference
“Faulkner and His Contemporaries”
The University of Mississippi, Oxford

Conference and registration information is now available on the web at the

If you know of upcoming readings and appearances by Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at 


The following events are planned for the coming weeks and months. You may wish to begin planning now to attend or participate.

May 7, 2002

Rhonda Rich, author of What Southern Women Know, will come to Square Books in Oxford to read and sign copies of her newest book, My Life in the Pits. Visit for details.

May 9, 2002

David Anthony Durham will read and sign copies of his newest novel, Walk Through Darkness, at Square Books in Oxford. Visit for details.

May 13, 2002

Writer Barry Gifford will read and sign copies of his newest book American Falls: The Collected Stories, at Square Books in Oxford. Visit for details.

May 16, 2002

Pamela Petro will read and discuss her new book, Sitting Up With the Dead: A Storied Journey through the American South, at Square Books in Oxford. Visit for details.

May 18, 2002

Poet Jeanne Kelly, author of From Sunrise to Sunset, will be available at the MPS Spring Festival at Lake Tiak-O’khata in Louisville, Mississippi.

May 24, 2002

Claire T. Feild will read and sign copies of her book of poems, Mississippi Delta Women in Prism, at Lemuria Books in Jackson. Visit for details.

May 24-26, 2002

“Remembering Willie: A Yazoo Celebration,” a festival held in honor of famous former Yazoo City resident Willie Morris. Among the authors and speakers are Kaye Gibbons, Barry Hannah, Clifton Taulbert, and Claire T. Feild.

June 26, 2002

Novelist Joe Kanon will read and sign copies of his historical thriller The Good German, at Square Books in Oxford. Visit for details.

November 11, 2002

Poetry Reading by J. D. McClatchy, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

February 6, 2003

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2002) Billy Collins reads from his poetry and offers commentary on his work and other matters. Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

February 17, 2003

A reading by Clifton L. Taulbert on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi.

July 20-25, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

If you know of additional news items for this newsletter or if you have suggestions, please write us at

For more information about events in the Oxford and University, Mississippi Community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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