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NC Literary Hall of Fame

 

 

Five illustrious authors were inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in a public ceremony October 20, 2002, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities, in Southern Pines, NC. They increased the honor roll of Tar Heel writers whose lives and works are celebrated there to thirty-six.

NC Poet Laureate, Fred Chappell presided at the 2002 induction of

  • Reynolds Price and Elizabeth Spencer
  • Honored posthumously were
    • Glen Rounds, of Southern Pines
    • LeGette Blythe, of Charlotte
    • Christian Reid (Frances Fisher), of Salisbury

The large upstairs room at Weymouth that houses the Hall of Fame was refurbished in time for the ceremony, thanks to a generous donation by the Women of Weymouth of recessed lighting, new paint, a refinished floor, and a re-hanging of the portraits of all thirty-six inductees.

Reynolds Price, James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University and a distinguished novelist, poet, dramatist and essayist, is the author of more than thirty books, including the recent novel Noble Norfleet (2002). Born in 1933 in Macon, N.C., Price attended public school and earned an A.B. summa cum laude from Duke University. He traveled to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1955 to study English literature, returning to Duke after three years with a B.Litt. degree, where he has taught ever since.

Elizabeth Spencer is regarded as one of America's most outstanding fiction writers. Spencer was born in Carrollton, Mississippi, in 1921 to a storytelling and book-loving family in a community steeped in the oral traditions of the South, and subsequently set many of her works in the hill country and deltas of Mississippi and Louisiana. The author of nine novels, many fine short stories, and the famous novella The Light in the Piazza, Spencer has received the Award of Merit Medal for the Short Story from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, of which she is a member. She has also been awarded the Cleanth Brooks Medal by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. Many of her stories and short fiction have recently been collected, along with six new stories, in The Southern Woman (2001), published to wide critical acclaim.

Glen Rounds (1906-2002) died just a few weeks before the ceremony. He was known as the last of the great "Ring-Tailed Roarers," for his 60-year career publishing tall tales, colorful narratives of the West, and nature books. Rounds was born in a sod house in the Badlands of South Dakota and grew up there and on a horse ranch in Montana. He studied painting and drawing at the Art Institute in Kansas City, and traveled the country one summer with another art student, Jackson Pollock. In 1937, Rounds visited North Carolina, married and, after service in World War II, settled here. He has written and/or illustrated 150 books. Among his early ones, Whitey's First Roundup (1942) featured a pint-sized cowboy whose adventures were recorded in many sequels.

William LeGette Blythe (1900-1993) was both a respected journalist and a prolific author of novels, biographies, and outdoor dramas based on the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Born in Huntersville, N.C., he graduated in 1921 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the original Carolina Playmakers and a classmate of Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green, and Jonathan Daniels. Blythe opted for a career in journalism, first with the Charlotte News and then, in 1927, with the Charlotte Observer. In 1950 he left the paper to write books full time. Blythe twice won the Mayflower Cup for nonfiction, first in 1953 for Miracle in the Hills, the story of Dr. Mary Martin Sloop's crusade to improve the lives of mountain people, and again in 1961 for Thomas Wolfe and His Family. His death marked the passing of the last of an illustrious group of writers who helped launch the Southern literary renascence.

In the years following the Civil War, Christian Reid, the pen name of Frances Christine Fishe (1846-1920)r, was one of the most popular and financially successful American writers of light romances. Born in Salisbury, Frances began inventing lengthy tales at the age of three. She turned to writing for her livelihood after her family was left penniless in the aftermath of the Civil War. She published forty-six books, mostly novels, the first of which, Valerie Aylmer, appeared in 1870 when she was only twenty-three. The Land of the Sky (1876) is perhaps the book most associated with Reid, the title giving the western part of the state a nickname that endures to this day. In 1887 she married James M. Tiernan, a widower who owned silver mines in Mexico, and traveled widely with her husband, later setting novels in the West Indies, Mexico, New York, and Europe. After James died, Frances remained in Salisbury, writing almost up until her own death.

 
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