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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for February 7-13, 2003

In this issue:


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

1699: Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, leading a French expedition to establish a permanent settlement in Louisiana, first entered present-day Mississippi at Ship Island. (Feb. 10)

1911: Football coach Glenn Ellison was born in Pittsboro, Mississippi. (Feb. 7)

1913: Newspaper columnist Orville B. Eustis was born in Greenville, Mississippi. (Feb. 8)

1913: Poet Charles Henri Ford was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi. (Feb. 10)

1918: Poet, professor, and U.S. Air Force officer Joseph B. Roberts, Jr., was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi. (Feb. 13)

1925: William Faulkner published “Mirrors of Chartres Street” in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (Feb. 8)

1930: English professor Carl E. Bain was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Feb. 9)

1931: The novel Sanctuary, by William Faulkner, was published by Cape & Smith. (Feb. 9)

1934: William Faulkner published “A Bear Hunt” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Feb. 10)

1936: Poet and phsyciain John Stone was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Feb. 7)

1941: The Atlantic Monthly accepted Eudora Welty’s short story “Why I Live At the P.O.” for publication. (Feb. 11)

1942: Novelist Peggy Webb was born in Mooreville, Mississippi. (Feb. 8)

1943: William Faulkner published “Shingles for the Lord” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Feb. 13)

1944: Writer David Blagden was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Feb. 8)

1951: William Faulkner’s Notes on a Horsethief was published. (Feb. 10)

1954: Author and poet Maxwell Bodenheim was fatally shot by Harold Weinberg while on a drinking spree. Weinberg then stabbed Bodenheim’s wife Ruth to death, as well. (Feb. 7)

1954: Shall Not Perish, teleplay by William Faulkner based on his story, was broadcast on Lux Video Theatre. (Feb. 11)

1955: Novelist John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Feb. 8)

1969: Boys in the Band, a play by Mart Crowley, opened in London at Wyndham’s. (Feb. 11)

1993: Children’s writer Otto R. Salassi died of liver disease in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Feb. 10)

1997: The television movie Old Man, based on the novella by William Faulkner, was broadcast on CBS. (Feb. 9)

2001: The motion picture Hannibal, sequel to Silence of the Lambs and based on a novel by Thomas Harris, premiered in theatres. (Feb. 9)

2002: A Multitude of Sins: Stories, by Richard Ford, was published. (Feb. 12)

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

To AmericaTo America: Personal Reflections of an Historian

By Stephen E. Ambrose

Simon & Schuster (Hardcover, $24.00, ISBN: 0743202759)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

In To America, Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the country’s most influential historians, reflects on his long career as an American historian and explains what an historian’s job is all about. He celebrates America’s spirit, which has carried us so far. He confronts its failures and struggles. As always in his much acclaimed work, Ambrose brings alive the men and women, famous and not, who have peopled our history and made the United States a model for the world.

Taking a few swings at today’s political correctness, as well as his own early biases, Ambrose grapples with the country’s historic sins of racism, its neglect and ill treatment of Native Americans, and its tragic errors (such as the war in Vietnam, which he ardently opposed on campus, where he was a professor). He reflects on some of the country’s early founders who were progressive thinkers while living a contradiction as slaveholders, great men such as Washington and Jefferson. He contemplates the genius of Andrew Jackson’s defeat of a vastly superior British force with a ragtag army in the War of 1812. He describes the grueling journey that Lewis and Clark made to open up the country, and the building of the railroad that joined it and produced great riches for a few barons.

Ambrose explains the misunderstood presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, records the country’s assumption of world power under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, and extols its heroic victory of World War II. He writes about women’s rights and civil rights and immigration, founding museums, and nation- building. He contrasts the presidencies of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Throughout, Ambrose celebrates the unflappable American spirit.

Most important, Ambrose writes about writing history. “The last five letters of the word ‘history’ tell us that it is an account of the past that is about people and what they did, which is what makes it the most fascinating of subjects.”

To America is an instant classic for all those interested in history, patriotism, and the love of writing.

Mississippi HarmonyMississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter

By Winson Hudson and Constance Curry

Palgrave Macmillan (Hardcover, $26.95, ISBN: 0312295537)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

In 1963, Winson Hudson finally registered to vote in Leake County, Mississippi, when she interpreted part of the state constitution by saying, “It meant what it said and it said what it meant.” Her first attempt had been in 1937. A lifelong native of the rural, all-black community of Harmony, Winson has lived through some of the most racially oppressive periods in her state’s history—and has devoted her life to combating discrimination. With her sister Dovie, Winson filed the first lawsuit to desegregate the public schools in a rural county. Helping to establish the county NAACP chapter in 1961, Winson served as its president for 38 years. Her work has included voting rights, school desegregation, health care, government loans, telephone service, good roads, housing, and childcare—issues that were intertwined with the black freedom struggle.

Winson’s narrative, presented in her own words with historical background from noted author and activist Constance Curry, is both triumphant and tragic, inspiring and disturbing. It illustrates the virtually untold story of the role that African American women played in the civil rights movement at the local level in black communities throughout the South.

Winson Hudson was born in Carthage, Mississippi in 1916. Her many honors include the NAACP’s Freedom Award for Outstanding Community Service and inclusion in Brian Lanker’s book of photographs of black women who changed America, I Dream a World. Constance Curry is an activist, attorney, and professor of women’s studies at Emory University. She has written several books on the the civil rights movement, including Deep in Our Hearts and the award-winning Silver Rights.

The King of TortsThe King of Torts

By John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 0385508042)

Publication date: February 2003


The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.

As he digs into the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, looking at the kind of enormous settlement that would totally change his life—that would make him, almost overnight, the legal profession’s newest king of torts…

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

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. 10: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi

Novelist John Grisham will sign copies of his latest novel, The King of Torts. For details, visit the Square Books 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

Feb. 17: That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Arkansas

Novelist John Grisham will sign copies of his latest novel, The King of Torts. For details, visit the bookstore web site,

Feb. 20: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.

Mystery writer Nevada Barr will appear to read from Flashback as part of Thacker Mountain Radio. Also appearing will be poet Sterling D. Plumpp. For more information, visit the Thacker Mountain web site,

Feb. 21-22: The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

“The Blues Today: A Living Blues Symposium” will take place at the University of Mississippi to honor “the year of the blues” and the anniversary of Living Blues magazine. Among those who will participate are critic Stanley Crouch, blues artists Bobby Rush and Willie King, and poet Sterling D. Plumpp. For complete details and registration information, visiti the symposium web site,

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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