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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for September 19-25, 2003

In this issue:


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

1779: After joining France in alliance against the British, Spain defeated British forces at Baton Rouge and took control of the British outpost at Natchez, later strengthening Spain’s post-war claims to its former Florida possessions. (Sept. 21)

1790: Southwestern humorist Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was born in Augusta, Georgia. (Sept. 22)

1867: Folklorist John Alan Lomax was born in Goodman, Mississippi. (Sept. 23)

1897: William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi. (Sept. 25)

1899: Murry C. Falkner, brother of John and William Faulkner, was born in Ripley, Mississippi. (Sept. 25)

1901: Novelist John Faulkner, brother of William Faulkner, was born in Ripley, Mississippi. (Sept. 24)

1902: William Faulkner’s family moved to Oxford, Mississippi, just three days prior to his fifth birthday. (Sept. 22)

1905: Journalist and editor George W. Healy, Jr., was born in Natchez, Mississippi. (Sept. 22)

1918: William Faulkner was posted to the School of Military Aeronautics in Toronto after his entry into the Canadian Royal Air Force in July. (Sept. 20)

1925: Freelance artist and writer Polly Bolian was born in Mississippi. (Sept. 20)

1931: William Faulkner published These 13, a short story collection. (Sept. 21)

1932: Historian William N. Still, Jr., was born in Columbus, Mississippi. (Sept. 25)

1933: Presbyterian minister and religion professor Julius W. Melton, Jr., was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sept. 25)

1936: Puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson, creator of the “Muppets,” was born in Greenville, Mississippi. (Sept. 24)

1937: Professor of Old Testament studies J. Maxwell Miller was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. (Sept. 20)

1937: Eudora Welty’s story “A Memory” was accepted for publication by the Southern Review. It was slightly revised for a later publication in A Curtain of Green. (Sept. 23)

1937: Tennessee Williams arrived in Iowa City to finish his undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa. (Sept. 23)

1937: Journalism professor A. Edward Foote was born in Burnsville, Mississippi. (Sept. 24)

1941: Social work professor Thomas D. Watts was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (Sept. 19)

1943: Eudora Welty’s The Wide Net and Other Stories was published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York. (Sept. 23)

1947: Etiquette instructor and consultant Joan M. Coles was born in Houston, Mississippi. (Sept. 19)

1969: A Sweet Devouring by Eudora Welty wais published by Albondocani Press, New York. (Sept. 24)

1973: The governor of Illinois proclaimed “Naomi Sims Day” in honor of fashion model Naomi Sims, who was born in Oxford, Mississippi. (Sept. 20)

1978: Baptist theologian Gaines Stanley Dobbins died. (Sept. 22)

1993: Theologian William F. Orr died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Sept. 23)

1999: Mystery writer Neil McGaughey died in Prentiss, Mississippi, at the age of 47. (Sept. 21)


Faulkner birthday celebration set for Sept. 25 at Ole Miss

Sept. 20, 2003

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — It’s only a matter of time before local leaders declare William Faulkner’s birthday to be a civic holiday in Oxford.

At least that’s the belief shared by some literature lovers at the the University of Mississippi as they plan a free, public celebration of what would have been the Nobel Prize-winning author’s 106th birthday this Thursday, Sept. 25.

“I don’t know why Faulkner’s birthday is not already a state or national holiday, for that matter,” said Joseph Urgo, chair of the Department of English.

“Very few towns in America can attest to having been home to one of humanity’s giants. Because of Faulkner, today Oxford, Mississippi, is the epicenter of American literature and world literature.”

Held at Faulkner’s historic home Rowan Oak on Old Taylor Road, the 4 p.m. celebration is sponsored by the University Writing Center and Department of English. Cake and punch will be served.

Coinciding with UM’s Writing Emphasis Week, the event features a reading by North Dakota native Larry Watson, author of Orchard, his sixth and latest novel. It is a portrait of the entangled lives of two couples in rural Wisconsin during the 1950s.

Commemorative toasts are to be offered by Donald Kartiganer, UM’s Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies, and Charles Reagan Wilson, director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth will reflect on Faulkner at Rowan Oak.

“It’s no Hollywood set, but it is far more glamorous to us,” reads invitations to the event.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, call the Department of English at 662-915-7439.

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

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers


By John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0385511612)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Grisham demonstrated he could produce bestsellers without legal aid with The Painted House and Skipping Christmas, and he'll undoubtedly do so again with this slight but likable novel of high school football, a legendary coach and the perils of too early fame. Fifteen years after graduation, Neely Crenshaw, one-time star quarterback of the Messina Spartans, returns home on hearing news of the impending death of tough-as-nails coach Eddie Rake.

Neely knows the score: “When you’re famous at eighteen, you spend the rest of your life fading away.” It’s a lesson he’s learned the hard way after destroying his knee playing college ball and drifting through life in an ever-downward spiral. He and his former teammates sit in the bleachers at the high school stadium waiting for Rake to die, drinking beer and reminiscing. There is a mystery involving the legendary ’87 championship, and Neely has unfinished business with an old high school sweetheart, but neither story line comes to much.

Readers will guess the solution to the mystery, as does the town police chief when it’s divulged to him (“ ‘We sorta figured it out,’ said Mal”) and Neely’s former girlfriend doesn’t want to have anything to do with his protestations of love (“You’ll get over it. Takes about ten years”). The stirring funeral scene may elicit a few tears, but Neely’s eulogy falls curiously flat. After living through four hard days in Messina, the lessons Neely learns are unremarkable (“Those days are gone now”). Many readers will come away having enjoyed the time spent, but wishing there had been a more sympathetic lead character, more originality, more pages, more story and more depth. —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

On William Faulkner

By Eudora Welty, afterword by Noel Polk

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 1578065704)

Publication date: September 2003

Description from the publisher:

Eudora Welty and William Faulkner crossed literary and personal paths.

Eudora Welty said that being in the same state with the phenomenal William Faulkner was like living near a big mountain. On William Faulkner reveals her encounters with that mountain, both personal and literary.

The new book brings together Welty’s reviews, essays, lectures, and musings on Faulkner, including such gems as her reviews of Intruder in the Dust and The Selected Letters of William Faulkner, as well as her comments during her presentation of the Gold Medal to Faulkner during the National Institute of Arts and Letters awards ceremony in 1962. The collection also features an excerpt from a letter she wrote to the novelist Jean Stafford, telling of meeting Faulkner and of going sailing with him. Included too are Welty’s impassioned defense of Faulkner’s work — published as a letter to the New Yorker — and the obituary of the Nobel laureate that she wrote for the Associated Press.

In addition, the book includes a cryptic postcard Faulkner wrote to Welty from Hollywood, plus five photographs, and a caricature of Faulkner drawn by Welty during the 1930s.

Commenting on the place of both writers in contemporary literature, an essay by the noted literary scholar Noel Polk puts the collection in context and offers assessment and appreciation of their achievements in American literature.

On William Faulkner is a valuable resource for exploring Faulkner’s work and sensing Welty’s critical voice. Her sharp critical eye and graceful prose make her an astute commentator on his legacy.

Eudora Welty is the author of many novels and story collections, including The Optimist’s Daughter (Pulitzer Prize), Losing Battles, The Ponder Heart, The Robber Bridegroom, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, as well as three collections of her photographic work—Photographs, Country Churchyards, and One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression (all from the University Press of Mississippi).

William Faulkner is the author of The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, Sanctuary, As I Lay Dying, among others. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

Noel Polk, a professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the author of many critical studies on Welty and Faulkner and is the co-editor of the Library of America edition of Faulkner’s works.


AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

September 25: Johnson Commons ballroom, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 4 p.m.

Party to celebrate what would have been William Faulkner’s 106th birthday. See article above for more details.

October 2: Colvard Union auditorium, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi, 7:30 p.m.

“Fiction Reading.” Mississippi fiction writer David Galef will read from his works.

October 8: Barnard Observatory lecture hall, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 12:00 p.m.

“Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture: The Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival in Clarksdale.” Presented by Panny Mayfield of Clarksdale and Colby Kullman, a professor of English. For more information, contact the Center for the Study of Southern Culture,

October 9-11: Clarksdale, Mississippi

“The 11th Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival.” For more information, visit

October 16: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.

Best-selling crime writer Elmore Leonard will sign at Square Books and appear on Thacker Mountain Radio as part of his visit to the University of Mississippi, sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series. For more information, visit

October 16: Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

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 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.

February 12, 2004

Reading and lecture by Richard Ford. 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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