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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for May 9-15, 2003

In this issue:


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

1885: Writer William Alexander Percy, who became legal guardian of his cousin Walker Percy after the death of Walker’s parents, was born in Greenville, Mississippi. (May 14)

1892: English professor Palmer Hudson was born in Attala County, Mississippi. (May 14)

1904: Historian John C. Osborn was born in Learned, Mississippi. (May 15)

1905: Writer and educator Miriam Weiss was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. (May 9)

1909: Theologian and philosopher James Brown was born in Laurel, Mississippi. (May 12)

1925: William Faulkner published “The Cobbler” in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (May 10)

1953: Mystery and romance novelist Carolyn Haines was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (May 12)

1941: Poet and fiction writer Paul Ruffin was born in Millport, Alabama. (May 14)

1942: Go Down, Moses, an episodic novel by William Faulkner, was published under the mistaken title Go Down, Moses, and Other Stories by Random House. Faulkner’s original title was restored to subsequent editions. (May 11)

1952: William Faulkner addressed the Delta Council in Cleveland, Mississippi. (May 15)

1977: Tennessee Williams’ play Vieux Carre opened at St. James Theatre, New York. It closed after ruinous notices and only five performances. (May 11)

1987: Writer Willie Morris spoke at the dedication of the Confederate cemetery in Raymond, Mississippi. (May 9)

1990: Walker Percy died of cancer in Covington, Louisiana. (May 10)

2001: The motion picture Big Bad Love, based on the short story collection by Larry Brown, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France. (May 12)

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

Shelby Foote: A Writer's LifeShelby Foote: A Writer’s Life

By C. Stuart Chapman

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $30.00, ISBN: 1578063590)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from the publisher:

A biography that plumbs the ambiguous life of the gentlemanly novelist and historian.

For a biographer Shelby Foote is a famously reluctant subject. In writing this biography, however, C. Stuart Chapman gained valuable access through interviews and shared correspondence, an advantage Foote rarely has granted to others.

Born into Mississippi Delta gentry in 1916, Foote has engaged in a lifelong struggle with the realities behind his persona, the classic image of the southern gentleman. His polished civil graces mask a conflict deep within. Foote’s beloved South is a changing region, and even progressive change, of which Foote approves, can be unsettling. In letters and interviews, and in his writings, he often waxes nostalgic as he grapples to recover the grace of an earlier time, particularly the era of the Civil War. Indeed, Chapman reveals that the whole of Foote’s novels and historical narratives serves as a refuge from deeply ambiguous feelings. As Foote has struggled to understand the radical shifts brought to his native land by modernization and the region’s integration into the nation, his personal history has been clouded by ideological conflict.

This biography shows him pining for aristocratic, antebellum culture while rejecting the practices that made possible the injustices of that era. Privately and vehemently, Foote opposed George C. Wallace’s and Ross Barnett’s untenable segregationist stance. Yet publicly during the 1960s and ’70s he skirted the explosive race issue.

Foote is best known for his dazzling and definitive The Civil War: A Narrative. Written from 1954 to 1974, the three-volume opus was published during years when the South exploded with racial and political tensions and was forever changed. This biography recognizes that nowhere are Foote’s personal conflicts, ambivalence, and outright contradictions more on display than in his fiction. Although Love in a Dry Season, Jordan County, and September, September are set in the contemporary South, they reach no firm social resolutions. Instead they entertain, dramatize, and come to grips with the social, gender, and racial barriers of the southern life he experienced.

While showing how Foote’s guarded embrace of the South’s past and present characterizes his identity as a thinker, a historian, and a writer of fiction, Chapman discloses Foote’s reluctance to address burning contemporary issues and his veiled desire to recall more gracious times.

C. Stuart Chapman is a Massachusetts State House aide living in Jamaica Plain. His work has been published in the Clarksdale Press-Register, Memphis Business Journal, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Jamaica Plain Gazette, Modern Fiction Studies, and other publications.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

June 19-22: Ford Center for the Performing Arts, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

“Oxford Film Festival.” Oxford’s first community-sponsored film festival consists of 4 days of screenings, along with workshops on film-making, screen-writing, etc., for adults and children, juried professional independent and amateur films, presentations and awards. Ticket prices & details TBA. 10 a.m.-midnight daily. For more information, visit the festival web site,

June 26-29: The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

The “Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers’ Workshop” is designed to give poets and fiction writers experience in the art of writing. The workshop features writing practice and critiques, as well as readings and craft presentations. By the end of the four days, participants should emerge with improved writing skills, as well as a greater appreciation for the process from thought to printed page. Open to anyone interested in writing. Pre-registration is required. Tuition for the workshop is $395 per person and includes workshops, lectures, panel discussions, readings, and one evening reception. The registration deadline is Friday, June 6, 2003. For more information, visit the workshop 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.

July 20-24, 2003

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

October 16, 2003

Elmore Leonard, author of more than 30 novels (including Bandits, Get Shorty, and Tishomingo Blues), numerous film and television productions, essays and commentaries, will read and talk about his career. For more information on Leonard, visit Elmore Leonard’s new book, When the Women Come Out to Dance, is to be published in November 2003. Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English at the University of 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 of Mississippi community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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