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What Other States Offer Literary Halls of Fame?

On Sunday, October 7, the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame will induct five new members. Dr. James W. Clark, Jr., Randall Kenan, Jill McCorkle, Penelope Niven, and Marsha White Warren will join the sixty writers currently enshrined.

We’re not the only Southern state to offer a Literary or “Writers” Hall of Fame.

The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame was founded in 2014 by the Alabama Center for the Book and the Alabama Writers’ Forum. The inaugural class of a dozen writers included Rick Bragg, Zora Neal Hurston, Helen Keller, and Harper Lee. Nine additional authors were inducted in 2016, including Fannie Flagg, Truman Capote, and Sequoyah, whose “syllabary made it possible for Cherokee spoken language to be codified.”

The Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame limits themselves to one or two inductees per year, and their requirements for induction are strict: a writer must have been born in Arkansas and “published a minimum of three books, recieved a significant literary award, and/or presented ample proof of journalist ability with news columns, editing, or credits for screen or staged plays.” Inductees include Kevin Brockmeier, Lily Peter, and Clovita Rice.

The Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, housed at the University of Georgia, has welcomed sixty-two writers thus far, including Pat Conroy, Flannery O’Connor, Janisse Ray, and Alice Walker. They base inductions on an open, public ballot, which is then voted on by a Board of Judges.

Inductees to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame “must be 1) published; 2) someone whose writing is of enduring stature; and 3) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” Since 2013, inductees have included Barbara Kingsolver, Hunter S. Thompson, and Robert Penn Warren.

The South Carolina Academy of Authors facilitates the South Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, enshrining luminaries such as Dorothy Alison, Mary Alice Monroe, and Ron Rash. They take a “Big Hall” approach, and yes, there’s some overlap: the Carolinas may quarrel over the right to claim writers such as Wilbur J. Cash or Louis D. Rubin, Jr., both of whom (rightly, in this author’s opinion) have been inducted into both the North and South Carolina Halls.

Florida and Mississippi offer a Hall of Fame for artists and notables, but not one exclusively for writers. And if anyone knows of something similar in Tennessee or Virginia, please offer a URL in the comments below!

Finally, although not Southern, the Chicago Writers Hall of Fame certainly deserves a mention: through “educational programming, awards, exhibits, and other special events,” the Hall positions itself as a “repository of detailed information about Chicago’s past, present, and future literary life.” Inductees include Sherwood Anderson, Saul Bellow, Shel Silverstein, and Carl Sandburg—who was, of course, inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2016.