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Home:  >News & Events   >Newsletter   >2003

Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for January 31-February 6, 2003

In this issue:


The following events all happened during this week in Mississippi history.

1907: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hodding Carter was born in Hammond, Louisiana. (Feb. 3)

1909: Biology professor Joseph J. Schwab was born in Columbus, Mississippi. (Feb. 2)

1910: Sociologist Romeo Benjamin Garrett was born in Natchez, Mississippi. (Feb. 2)

1915: Sociologist Abbott Lamoyne Ferriss was born in Jonestown, Mississippi. (Jan. 31)

1929: The novel Sartoris, by William Faulkner, was published by Harcourt Brace. It was the first of many novels Faulkner set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. (Jan. 31)

1932: William Faulkner published “Once Aboard the Lugger” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Feb. 1)

1933: William Faulkner began taking flying lessons. (Feb. 2)

1937: Baptist theologian Walter B. Shurden was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. (Feb. 1)

1940: Mammy Caroline (Callie) Barr died and William Faulkner delivered the eulogy at her funeral. (Jan. 31)

1941: Richard Wright, age 32, author of Native Son, won the Joel Springarn Medal awarded by the NAACP for the highest achievement “in any honorable field of endeavor.” (Jan. 31)

1942: Harper’s Magazine accepted Eudora Welty’s story “The Wide Net” for publication. It had been previously rejected by the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Red Book, Country Gentleman, Ladies Home Journal, and Atlantic, among others. (Feb. 6)

1948: Political scientist Charles Lipson was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. (Feb. 1)

1948: Historian Charles Reagan Wilson was born in Nashville, Tennessee. (Feb. 2)

1948: William Ferris, anthropologist, folklorist, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (Feb. 5)

1951: Tennessee WilliamsThe Rose Tattoo opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway in New York, starring Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach. (Feb. 3)

1953: Novelist and journalist Ben Ames Williams died of a heart attack in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Feb. 4)

1979: Educator and children’s book writer Charlemae Hill Rollins died. (Feb. 3)

1988: Young adult fiction writer Iris Vinton died of breast cancer in New York City. (Feb. 6)

1992: Writer and rancher Con Sellers, who wrote more than 100 novels under the pseudonyms “Robert Crane” and “Lee Raintree,” as well as others, died in Medford, Oregon, from complications resulting from an intestinal aneurysm. (Feb. 2)

1994: A jury in Hinds County, Mississippi, convicted white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. This was de la Beckwith’s third trial; the first two in the 1960s ended in hung juries. (Feb. 5)

2002: Publication of The Summons, a novel by John Grisham. (Feb. 5)

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

Homesick: A MemoirHomesick: A Memoir

By Sela Ward

Regan Books (Hardcover, $24.95 ISBN: 0060394366)

Publication date: October 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

This earnest memoir by Ward, the 46-year-old star of the 1990s sitcom hits Sisters and Once & Again and spokesperson for Sprint long distance, juxtaposes a jet-setting Hollywood image with a smalltown Mississippi past. More sugared up than a glass of Southern iced tea, the book will surely build Ward’s reputation with her TV fan base, as it doesn’t delve deep into Ward’s psyche or tell all about the biz. It’s targeted at the women Ward grew up with in Meridian, Miss., the same women she wants to reunite with now that she’s returned there to begin settling down, loaded with cash, a Los Angeles venture capitalist husband and their two children. The fascinating trajectory of Ward’s ideal American woman’s life she went from cheerleader and homecoming queen at the University of Alabama to fashion model and fixture of New York nightlife should intrigue readers who can relate to culture shock. There’s also a smattering of intelligently researched treatises on civil rights and on the contemporary crumbling of social bonds. A portion of the book’s proceeds will go to a foundation for abused and neglected children that Ward founded last year in Meridian. Her overly saccharine tendencies notwithstanding, Ward gives readers a cute story of a smalltown girl’s rise to celebrity. Photos. —Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The Shadows of God The Shadows of God

By J. Gregory Keyes

The Age of Unreason, Book 4

Del Rey (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345455835)

Publication date: October 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

In the fourth and final volume in his Age of Unreason series (Newton’s Cannon, etc.), Keyes brings his multi-threaded yarn to a thrilling conclusion. Based on the premise that Sir Isaac Newton devised a theory of alchemy that led to the industrial use of demons, the book builds to a climactic confrontation to see who will reshape the universe. Chief among Newton’s apprentices are wizard/scientist Benjamin Franklin, South Carolina’s ambassador to the court of New Paris (Mobile), and Adrienne de Montchevreuil, sorceress and heir to a secret tradition.

Against them is Adrienne’s son, Nicolas (aka the Sun Boy), with his army of Russians, Mongols and Coweta natives that sweeps over the Great Plains. Such imaginative devices as demon-levitated airships and aetherschreibers (wireless sets) lend interest to the author’s alternate 18th-century world, as do revelations behind certain historical events, like the identity of who helped Louis XIV drop a comet on London.

Keyes entertains both with details of everyday life and with the conversations of people who may not have met but should have. He produces a fine pastiche of the formal writing of Voltaire (who appears as Franklin’s friend and rival), marred only by a more modern “crash cut” narrative, which occasionally jumps mid-scene or reverses chronology, diffusing the suspense. Still, with the unfolding of secrets and past deeds, Keyes brings a welcome level of character uncertainty to the deterministic Newtonian novel. —Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Three Plays by Beth Henley

By Beth Henley

Dramatists Play Service (Paperback, $5.95, ISBN: 0822218755)

Publication date: October 2002


Three one-act plays by Beth Henley: Control Freaks, L-Play, and Sisters of the Winter Madrigal.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

Feb. 6: Johnson Commons Auditorium, University of Mississippi campus, Oxford, Mississippi, 8 p.m.

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2002) Billy Collins reads from his poetry and offers commentary on his work and other matters. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the English Department. For more information, contact the department at (662) 915-7439, or online at

Feb. 6-8: Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Cinema 12, Starkville, Mississippi

The 6th annual Mag Film Fest, celebrating the spirit, the honesty, and the vision of independent films. For more information, visit the festival web site,

Feb. 17: Old Chemistry Auditorium, University of Mississippi campus, Oxford, Mississippi, 7 p.m.

Clifton L. Taulbert, author of the acclaimed classic Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, will speak. This event is in conjunction with Open Doors, the University of Mississippi’s yearlong observance of the 40th anniversary of the integration of higher education. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the English Department. For more information, contact the department at (662) 915-7439, or online at

If you know of upcoming literary events by or about 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.

March 25, 2003

Poetry Reading by Andrew Hudgins, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

March 26-30, 2003

Seventeenth Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana. For information, visit their web site at

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi.

July 20-24, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi. Information and registration forms available at

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 of Mississippi community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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