The oldest NCWN member that I know of turned 99 earlier this year, which means that the Charlotte Writers’ Club not only is older than the Network, but older than any current Network member.
The Charlotte Writers’ Club turns 100 this year, a remarkable milestone for any literary organization. For context, when the Network started in 1985, the CWC already had been around for 63 years.
According to the centennial celebration page on their website, “Our founder, A L Kimball, sought out writers and writing ideas in 1922 with an eye to building a community of nurturing, encouragement, and education for local writers of all genres and skill levels.”
Kimball succeeded, and then some. The CWC says they now have about 300 members, most of them in the sprawling Charlotte Metro area but some “as far away as California.” They also have a branch for writers near Lake Norman, Charlotte Writers’ Club—North, co-founded by NCLHOF inductee Anthony Abbott.
Charlotte and its environs may be known by some as “the Great State of Mecklenburg,” accused of holding itself apart from the rest of the state, and known more for banking and NASCAR than writing, but the CWC has been a leader and a model for forming literary community and nurturing new writers. Writers who have spent significant time in Mecklenburg include Abbott and fellow NCLHOF inductees William LeGette Blythe and W. J. Cash, Carson McCullers (who wrote most of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter while living there), former NC Poets Laureate Joseph Bathanti and Cathy Smith Bowers, and (cough, cough) the instructors of this year’s Squire Summer Writing Workshops at Davidson College—Jack Jung, Cynthia Lewis, and Alan Michael Parker.
Please join us in wishing CWC a very happy 100th birthday, and hopes for another 100.