Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

About the Award

Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award has been presented annually for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina since 1955 when Wilma Dykeman won for The French Broad. 

In 2021, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle won the award for Even As We Breathe: A Novel.


To nominate a publication for our 2022 award, please click the “Nominate” button below and fill out the form.


2021 Finalists

Literary Award Recipients

George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Imigrant Imagines Western North Carolina



Literary award committee chair Catherine Frank said, “In George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina Brent Martin brings together Masa’s arresting images and his own reflections on walking in Masa’s footsteps to tell one of our region’s important stories in an innovative way. Masa played a pivotal role in the creation of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Trail through photographs that allowed viewers to experience places they would never visit. Martin creates a portrait of
a man and a region we now know a little better.”

Even As We Breathe: A Novel



Of the novel, Catherine Frank, Chair of the selection committee, says, “Even As We Breathe immerses us in a specific place and time, Asheville’s Grove Park Inn when it was being used to house Axis diplomats and their families in 1942, and in the Qualla Boundary where Cherokee traditions are deeply embedded but in conflict with an ever encroaching outside world. But the story of Cowney Sequoyah and Essie Stamper is also timeless and universal, exploring what it means to lose innocence and to find ‘who we are supposed to be.’ Most importantly, the book is beautifully written, with convincing, well-drawn characters and compelling imagery that tie the various stories together. This first novel by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians exemplifies the quality of the most compelling regional writing.”

Eastern Cherokee Stories:
A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance

BY Sandra Muse Isaacs


“Sandra Muse Isaacs in Eastern Cherokee Stories helps the reader see the oral tradition of the Eastern Cherokee as both an ancient and contemporary means of expressing culture and identity. She allows us to see the ways in which stories continue to have the power to educate and motivate a people rooted in a deep respect and understanding of all living things. For her scholarship and for offering us a new lens on the original people of our region, Muse Isaacs was chosen as the winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for 2020,” said Catherine Frank, Chair of the selection committee.

From the publisher: In Eastern Cherokee Stories, Sandra Muse Isaacs uses the concepts of Gadugi and Duyvkta to explore the Eastern Cherokee oral tradition, and to explain how storytelling in this tradition—as both an ancient and a contemporary literary form—is instrumental in the perpetuation of Cherokee identity and culture. Muse Isaacs worked among the Eastern Cherokees of North Carolina, recording stories and documenting storytelling practices and examining the Eastern Cherokee oral tradition as both an ancient and contemporary literary form.

Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography



“The committee was especially struck by the depth of research and the objective and nuanced perspective that Ellison and McCue show in their work. This book will long serve as a comprehensive picture for a casual reader and a wealth of sources and information for researchers,” said Brandon Johnson, Chair of the selection committee.

From the publisher: “An icon of the Southern Appalachian region known for the seminal books Camping and Woodcraft (1906) and Our Southern Highlanders (1913), Horace Kephart was instrumental in efforts to establish the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. But Kephart is perhaps best known for his decade-long crusade to help protect the Smokies as a national park. The culmination of decades of tireless research and devoted scholarship, Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography is the compelling story of this librarian-turned-woodsman who had a far-reaching effect on wilderness literature and outdoor pursuits throughout North America.”





From the publisher: “In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War. Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history—culpable regardless of her intentions. The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with “bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.” Intimate in its detailed observations of one woman’s tragic life and epic in its scope and power, Varina is a novel of an American war and its aftermath. Ultimately, the book is a portrait of a woman who comes to realize that complicity carries consequences.”

Over the Plain Houses

BY Julia Franks


From the publisher: “It’s 1931, and the federal goverment has sent USDA agent Virginia Furman into the North Carolina mountains to instruct families on modernizing their homes and farms. There she meets farm wife Irenie Lambey, who is immediately drawn to the lady agent’s self-possession. Already, cracks are emerging in Irenie’s fragile marriage to Brodis, an ex-logger turned fundamentalist preacher: She has taken to night ramblings through the woods to escape her husband’s bed, storing strange keepsakes in a mountain cavern. To Brodis, these are all the signs that Irenie—tiptoeing through the dark in her billowing white nightshirt—is practicing black magic. When Irenie slips back into bed with a kind of supernatural stealth, Brodis senses that a certain evil has entered his life, linked to the lady agent, or perhaps to other, more sinister forces. This mesmerizing debut by Julia Franks is the story of a woman intrigued by the possibility of change, escape, and reproductive choice—stalked by a Bible-haunted man who fears his government and stakes his integrity upon an older way of life. As Brodis chases his demons, he brings about a final act of violence that shakes the entire valley. In this spellbinding Southern story, Franks bares the myths and mysteries that modernity can’t quite dispel.”

That Bright Land

BY Terry Roberts


From the publisher: “Set in the summer of 1866, a year after the Civil War has ended, That Bright Land is the story of Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and spy who’s been sent south into the North Carolina mountains to find a serial killer who is carrying out his own private war in an isolated community. His journey also takes him home to the mountains where he was born. As he searches for the killer, he meets a war widow who helps him heal his own wounds and make peace with his past. Based on true events, That Bright Land paints a compelling picture of a violent and fragile nation in the wake of the Civil War.”

Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia

BY Fiona Ritchie & Doug Orr


From the publisher: “Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a steady stream of Scots migrated to Ulster and eventually onward across the Atlantic to resettle in the United States. Many of these Scots-Irish immigrants made their way into the mountains of the southern Appalachian region. They brought with them a wealth of traditional ballads and tunes from the British Isles and Ireland, a carrying stream that merged with sounds and songs of English, German, Welsh, African American, French, and Cherokee origin. Their enduring legacy of music flows today from Appalachia back to Ireland and Scotland and around the globe. In Wayfaring Strangers, Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr guide readers on a musical voyage across oceans, linking people and songs through centuries of adaptation and change. From ancient ballads at the heart of the tradition to instruments that express this dynamic music, Ritchie and Orr chronicle the details of an epic journey. Enriched by the insights of key contributors to the living tradition on both sides of the Atlantic, this abundantly illustrated volume includes a CD featuring 20 songs by musicians profiled in the book, including Dolly Parton, Dougie MacLean, Cara Dillon, John Doyle, Pete Seeger, Sheila Kay Adams, Jean Ritchie, Doc Watson, David Holt, Anais Mitchell, Al Petteway, and Amy White. In 2017, noted Scottish musician Phil Cunningham followed this musical migration for the acclaimed BBC tv series “Wayfaring Stranger” to which the authors contributed.  In the pages of this book, tv viewers will enjoy re-visiting the people and places they loved on screen.”

The Road from Gap Creek

BY Robert Morgan


From the publisher: “One of America’s most acclaimed writers returns to the land on which he has staked a literary claim to paint an indelible portrait of a family in a time of unprecedented change. In a compelling weaving of fact and fiction, Robert Morgan introduces a family’s captivating story, set during World War II and the Great Depression. Driven by the uncertainties of the future, the family struggles to define itself against the vivid Appalachian landscape. The Road from Gap Creek explores modern American history through the lives of an ordinary family persevering through extraordinary times.”

a land more kind than home

BY wiley cash


From the publisher: “In his phenomenal debut novel—a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small North Carolina town—author Wiley Cash displays a remarkable talent for lyrical, powerfully emotional storytelling. A Land More Kind than Home is a modern masterwork of Southern fiction, reminiscent of the writings of John Hart (Down River), Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), Ron Rash (Serena), and Pete Dexter (Paris Trout)—one that is likely to be held in the same enduring esteem as such American classics as To Kill a MockingbirdOf Mice and Men, and A Separate Peace. A brilliant evocation of a place, a heart-rending family story, a gripping and suspenseful mystery—with A Land More Kind than Home, a major American novelist enthusiastically announces his arrival.”

Blue Ridge Commons:  Environmental Activism and Forest History in WNC

BY Kathryn Newfont


From the publisher: “In the late 20th century, residents of the Blue Ridge mountains in western North Carolina fiercely resisted certain environmental efforts, even while launching aggressive initiatives of their own. Kathryn Newfont examines the environmental history of this region over the course of three hundred years, identifying what she calls commons environmentalism-a cultural strain of conservation in American history that has gone largely unexplored. Efforts in the 1970s to expand federal wilderness areas in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests generated strong opposition. For many mountain residents the idea of unspoiled wilderness seemed economically unsound, historically dishonest, and elitist. Newfont shows that local people’s sense of commons environmentalism required access to the forests that they viewed as semipublic places for hunting, fishing, and working. Policies that removed large tracts from use were perceived as “enclosure” and resisted. These battles often pitted industrialists against environmentalists. Newfont argues that the side that most effectively hitched its cause to local residents’ commons culture usually won. A few perceptive activists realized that the same cultural ground that yielded wilderness opposition could also produce ambitious protection efforts, such as Blue Ridge residents’ opposition to petroleum exploration and clearcut timber harvesting. Incorporating deep archival work and years of interviews and conversations with Appalachian residents, Blue Ridge Commons reveals a tradition of people building robust forest protection movements on their own terms.”

Under the Mercy Trees



From the publisher: “Heather Newton’s Under the Mercy Trees tells the poignant and unforgettable story of a man forced to face his troubled past when he returns to his hometown in the mountains of North Carolina following the disappearance of his brother. Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning. As the mystery surrounding Leon’s disappearance deepens, so too does the weight of decades-long unresolved differences and unspoken feelings—forcing Martin to deal with the hardest lessons about home, duty, and love.

Requiem by Fire

BY Wayne Caldwell


From the publisher: “In Requiem by Fire, Caldwell returns to the same fertile Appalachian ground that provided the setting for his first novel, recalling a singular time in American history when the greater good may not have been best for everyone. In the late 1920s, Cataloochee, North Carolina, a settlement tucked deep in the Great Smoky Mountains, is home to nearly eleven hundred souls–many of them prosperous farmers whose ancestors broke the first furrows a century earlier. Now attorney Oliver Babcock, Jr., has been given the difficult task of presenting the locals with two options: sell their land to the federal government for the creation of a national park or remain behind at their own financial peril. While some of the area’s inhabitants seem ready to embrace a new and modern life, others, deeply embedded in their rural ways, are resistant. Silas Wright’s cantankerous unwillingness to sell or to follow the new rules leads to some knotty and often amusing predicaments. Jim Hawkins, hired by the Parks commission, has relocated his reluctant wife, Nell, and their children to Cataloochee, but Nell’s unhappiness forces Jim to make a dire choice between his roots and his family. And a sinister force is at work in the form of the deranged Willie McPeters, who threatens those who have decided to stay put. Requiem by Fire is a moving, timeless tale of survival and change. With humor and pathos, this magnificent novel transports readers to another time and place–and celebrates Southern storytelling at its finest.”

Grove Park Inn: Arts & Crafts Furniture

BY Bruce E. Johnson


From the publisher: “The Grove Park Inn opened in scenic Asheville, North Carolina in 1913, at the height of the American Arts & Crafts movement. The craftsmen at Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft Shops were chosen to produce the Arts & Crafts furniture and hand-hammered lighting for what was called “the finest resort hotel in the world.” Today the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa is home to the country’s largest collection of Arts & Crafts furnishings. In Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture, read about the history of this unique resort, through good times and bad. Take a visual tour through the hotel and its furniture collection. When you’re inspired, use the incredibly detailed drawings and photos to build ten of the most significant pieces in the collection for yourself.”

Chemistry and Other Stories

BY Ron Rash


From the publisher: “From the pre-eminent chronicler of this forgotten territory, stories that range over one hundred years in the troubled, violent emergence of the New South. In Ron Rash’s stories, spanning the entire 20th century in Appalachia, rural communities struggle with the arrival of a new era. Three old men stalk the shadow of a giant fish no one else believes is there. A man takes up scuba diving in the town reservoir to fight off a killing depression. A grieving mother leads a surveyor into the woods to name once and for all the county where her son was murdered by thieves. In the Appalachia of Ron Rash’s stories, the collision of the old and new south, of antique and modern, resonate with the depth and power of ancient myths.”

On Agate Hill



From the publisher: “It is 1872, Agate Hill, North Carolina. On her thirteenth birthday, Molly Petree peeps out the chink of a window from her secret hiding place up in the eaves of a tumbledown old plantation house to survey a world gone wild, all expectations overthrown, all order gone. I know I am a spitfire and a burden, she begins her diary. I do not care. My family is a dead family, and this is not my home, for I am a refugee girl but evil or good I will write it all down every true thing in black and white upon the page, for evil or good it is my own true life and I WILL have it. I will. Carefully she places the diary in her treasured box of phenomena which will contain letters, poems, songs, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, and a large collection of bones, some human and some not by the time it is found during a historic renovation project in 2003. The contents of Molly’s box make up this extraordinary novel which chronicles her passionate, picaresque journey across the whole curve of the earth through love, betrayal, motherhood, a murder trial—and finally back to Agate Hill to end her days under circumstances that even she could never have imagined.”

Shinemaster: Poems

BY Michael McFee


From the publisher: “Shinemaster is a book about discovering plenitude in apparent scarcity. It presents this human paradox in lively and often playful fashion, with poems about sweet potatoes, popular music, spitwads, sex education, family and marriage, cafeterias, Sunday School, and a shoeshine kit. McFee’s poems are lucid and vivid, ranging in length from quick lyrics to more extended poems about kissing, sneezing, whistling, and making art. Shinemaster is a book about discovering plenitude in apparent scarcity. It presents this human paradox in lively and often playful fashion, with poems about sweet potatoes, popular music, spitwads, sex education, family and marriage, cafeterias, Sunday School, and a shoeshine kit. McFee’s poems are lucid and vivid, ranging in length from quick lyrics to more extended poems about kissing, sneezing, whistling, and making art.”

High Mountains Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place



From the publisher: “This collection is the first comprehensive, cohesive volume to unite Appalachian history with its culture. Richard A. Straw and H. Tyler Blethen’s High Mountains Rising provides a clear, systematic, and engaging overview of the Appalachian timeline, its people, and the most significant aspects of life in the region. The first half of the fourteen essays deal with historical issues including Native Americans, pioneer settlement, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, the Great Depression, migration, and finally, modernization. The remaining essays take a more cultural focus, addressing stereotypes, music, folklife, language, literature, and religion. Bringing together many of the most prestigious scholars in Appalachian studies, this volume has been designed for general and classroom use, and includes suggestions for further reading.”

The Maya of Morganton

BY Leon Fink

2003 (No award given in 2004)

From the publisher: “The arrival of several hundred Guatemalan-born workers in a Morganton, North Carolina, poultry plant sets the stage for this dramatic story of human struggle in an age of globalization. When laborers’ concerns about safety and fairness spark a strike and, ultimately, a unionizing campaign at Case Farms, the resulting decade-long standoff pits a recalcitrant New South employer against an unlikely coalition of antagonists. Mayan refugees from war-torn Guatemala, Mexican workers, and a diverse group of local allies join forces with the Laborers union. The ensuing clash becomes a testing ground for “new labor” workplace and legal strategies. In the process, the nation’s fastest-growing immigrant region encounters a new struggle for social justice. Using scores of interviews, Leon Fink gives voice to a remarkably resilient people. He shows that, paradoxically, what sustains these global travelers are the ties of local community. Whether one is finding a job, going to church, joining a soccer team, or building a union, kin and linguistic connections to the place of one’s birth prove crucial in negotiating today’s global marketplace. A story set at the intersection of globalization and community, two words not often linked, The Maya of Morganton addresses fundamental questions about the changing face of labor in the United States.”

Sodom Laurel Album

BY Rob Amberg


From the publisher: “When photographer Rob Amberg first met Dellie Norton and her adopted son, Junior, in 1975, Norton was seventy-six years old and had lived most of her life in the small mountain community of Sodom Laurel, North Carolina, surrounded by close kin, tobacco fields, and the rugged wilderness of the southern Appalachians. Sodom Laurel Album traces the growing relationship between Norton and Amberg across the next two decades, years marked by the seasons of raising and harvesting food and tobacco and by the gatherings of family and friends for conversation, storytelling, and music. Richly evocative images are interlaced with stories of the people of Sodom Laurel and with Amberg’s own candid journals, which reveal his gradually growing understanding of this world he entered as a stranger. The book also includes a CD featuring Dellie Norton, Doug Wallin, and other singers of traditional Appalachian music. Through words, photographs, oral histories, and songs, Sodom Laurel Album tells the moving story of a once-isolated community on the brink of change, the people who live there, and the music that binds them together.”

May We All Remember Well: Volume II

Edited by Robert S.  Brunk


From the publisher: “Robert S. Brunk Auction Services, Inc. of Asheville published Volume II of ‘May We All Remember Well: A Journal of the History and Cultures of Western North Carolina.’ Like Volume I published in 1997, the new book includes 14 studies by writers and photographers documenting achitectural history, oral histories, crafts, music, literature, and black history in Western North Carolina. The encyclopedic work has nearly 400 pages and more than 600 illustrations. ‘Western North Carolina is in the midst of dramatic social change and these studies are our contribution to the documentation of the history of the region so rich in cultural tradition,’ Robert S. Brunk said.”

Carolina Ghost Woods: Poems

BY Judy Jordan


From the publisher: “The daughter of sharecroppers and raised on a small farm near the Carolinas’ border, Judy Jordan in her first poetry collection transforms the harshness of her youth with the beauty, inventiveness, and musicality of language. Physical and emotional privation, familial violence, racial enmity, and recurrent death hauntCarolina Ghost Woods, which is set amid the lush landscape of the South and enfolds the wildness—inclement and consoling by turns—of nature and agriculture. Jordan, though, reveals compassion as well as passion for her subject matter and the people in her poems, creating lines of hope and chords of ecstatic energy out of despair. She offers a poetry of witness that does not sacrifice the aesthetics of language and rhythm: ‘Here I bring my sorrows / like the delft blue mussel shells, / fingertip tiny, most beautiful when strewn wide with loss.'”

In the Family Way

BY Tommy Hays


From the publisher: Tommy Hays’ second novel, In the Family Way, won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for 2000 and was chosen for the Book of the Month Club. Set in the early 1960’s in Greenville, South Carolina, it is about Jeru Lamb, a ten-year-old, who is trying to come to terms with his brother’s death. He’s also trying to understand his mother’s conversion to Christian Science, his father’s literary ambitions (and recent calling as “a Waffle House mystic”), the racial landscape of the segregated South, and a new classmate from the wrong side of town who claims to be his half-sister. “It was not lost on me that by expecting the worst every breathing moment, I backed into prophecy once in a while,” says Jeru, and when his mother finds herself “in the family way”–against doctor’s orders–Jeru is left to wonder just what he might lose next.

Living Stories of the Cherokee

Collected and edited by Barbara R. Duncan


From the publisher: This remarkable book, the first major new collection of Cherokee stories published in nearly a hundred years, presents seventy-two traditional and contemporary tales from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. It features stories told by Davey Arch, Robert Bushyhead, Edna Chekelelee, Marie Junaluska, Kathi Smith Littlejohn, and Freeman Owle–six Cherokee storytellers who learned their art and their stories from family and community. The tales gathered here include animal stories, creation myths, legends, and ghost stories as well as family tales and stories about such events in Cherokee history as the Trail of Tears. Taken together, they demonstrate that storytelling is a living, vital tradition. As new stories are added and old stories are changed or forgotten, Cherokee storytelling grows and evolves. In an introductory essay, Barbara Duncan writes about the Cherokee storytelling tradition and explains the “oral poetics” style in which the stories are presented. This format effectively conveys the rhythmic, oral quality of the living storytelling tradition, allowing the reader to “hear” the voice of the storyteller.

Cold Mountain



From the publisher: Cold Mountain, the extraordinary story of a soldier’s perilous journey back to his beloved at the end of the Civil War, is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished land, a place where savagery coexists with splendor and human beings contend with the inhuman solitude of the wilderness. Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.

The Last Chivaree: The Hicks Family of Beech Mountain

BY Robert Isbell


From the publisher: The Last Chivaree creates a vivid and unsparing portrait of Appalachian mountain life in the first half of the twentieth century, before power lines and paved roads opened the way to widespread change. Robert Isbell’s profile of the remarkable Hicks family of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, pays tribute to the longstanding mountain traditions of music making and storytelling. It is based largely on the reminiscences of Ray Hicks, a master teller of Jack Tales and a central figure in the current revival of traditional storytelling. Among the Hickses, family history is part of the taletelling tradition. We learn of Hicks ancestors who arrived in the southern mountains in the late eighteenth century; of Ray’s parents, Rena and Nathan, who struggled to raise ten children; and of the whole extended Hicks circle and their attempts to scratch out a living in an unforgiving environment. The book itself reads like a well-told tale, but all the characters are real, although the names of a few, now dead, have been changed in deference to survivors. Based on hundreds of hours of listening and many years of friendship, The Last Chivaree captures the wisdom, humor, and dignity of the family it chronicles.

Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains & What the Mountains Did to the Movies

BY J.W. Williamson


From the publisher: The stereotypical hillbilly figure in popular culture provokes a range of responses, from bemused affection for Ma and Pa Kettle to outright fear of the mountain men in Deliverance. In Hillbillyland, J. W. Williamson investigates why hillbilly images are so pervasive in our culture and what purposes they serve. He has mined more than 800 movies, from early nickelodeon one-reelers to contemporary films such as Thelma and Louise and Raising Arizona, for representations of hillbillies in their recurring roles as symbolic ‘cultural others.’ Williamson’s hillbillies live not only in the hills of the South but anywhere on the rough edge of society. And they are not just men; women can be hillbillies, too. According to Williamson, mainstream America responds to hillbillies because they embody our fears and hopes and a romantic vision of the past. They are clowns, children, free spirits, or wild people through whom we live vicariously while being reassured about our own standing in society.

Warren Wilson College: A Centennial Portrait

BY Reuben A. Holden and Mark T. Banker


From the publisher: Today’s Warren Wilson College emerged from modest beginnings. Indeed, the band of missionary educators who founded the Asheville Farm School in 1894 would be amazed if they could join the centennial celebrations. The simple frame and log buildings they constructed on a knoll above the Swannanoa River gave way long ago to today’s scenic Warren Wilson campus. More significantly, their educational mission that offered elementary instruction to mountain boys evolved through the years into a distinctive baccalaureate program that serves young men and women from every corner of the world. These developments came in response to technological, demographic, and social change in the southern mountain region and the world. Yet even as changing circumstances forced the school to reconsider and redefine its mission, the heirs to those late 19th century missionaries repeatedly recognized that the most basic human needs are timeless and unchanging. In 1994, it is appropriate that we pause briefly and draw insight and inspiration from the college’s past.

The Airwaves of Zion: Radio and Religion in Appalachia

BY Howard Dorgan


For much of the mainstream media, religious broadcasting evokes images of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson. Yet, as Howard Dorgan reminds us, an older, still lively folk-oriented tradition survives on Sunday mornings (and occasionally Sunday afternoons and Saturdays) on dozens of am radio stations across the mountain regions of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. These locally produced, live religious broadcasts—ad hoc mixtures of preaching, gospel singing, and personal testifying—vary widely from community to community. After several years of observation and field study, however, Howard Dorgan, a past professor of communications at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, has identified many common threads.

Wildwood Flower: Poems

BY Kathryn stripling byer


In Wildflower Flower, whose title derives from a traditional country song, Byer speaks through the fictional voice of a mountain woman named Alma, who lived in the Blue Ridge wilderness around the turn of the century. In narrative and lyric, Byer’s poems sing a journey through solitude, capturing the spirit and the sound of mountain ballads and of the women who sang them, stitching bits and pieces of their hardscrabble lives into lasting patterns. The landscape Byer depicts is haunted by disappointed love and physical hardship, but it is blessed with dogwood and trillium, columbine and hickory, and streams that sing a ballad as strong as any Alma has learned from mother or grandmother. Through these natural details and through Alma’s indomitable voice, Kathryn Stripling Byer has brilliantly recreated a lost world.

Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in WNC

BY John C. Inscoe

1989 (No award given in 1990 or 1991)

From the publisher: Antebellum Southern Appalachia has long been seen as a classless and essentially slaveless region – one so alienated and isolated from other parts of the South that, with the onset of the Civil War, highlanders opposed both secession and Confederate war efforts. In a multifaceted challenge to these basic assumptions about Appalachian society in the mid-nineteenth century, John Inscoe reveals new variations on the diverse motives and rationales that drove Southerners, particularly in the Upper South, out of the Union.
Mountain Masters vividly portrays the wealth, family connections, commercial activities, and governmental power of the slaveholding elite that controlled the social, economic, and political development of western North Carolina. In examining the role played by slavery in shaping the political consciousness of mountain residents, the book also provides fresh insights into the nature of southern class interaction, community structure, and master-slave relationships.

Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community

BY durwood dunn


From the publisher: Drawing on a rich trove of documents never before available to scholars, the author sketches the early pioneers, their daily lives, their beliefs, and their struggles to survive and prosper in this isolated mountain community, now within the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In moving detail this book brings to life an isolated mountain community, its struggle to survive, and the tragedy of its demise. “Professor Dunn provides us with a model historical investigation of a southern mountain community. His findings on commercial farming, family, religion, and politics will challenge many standard interpretations of the Appalachian past.” –Gordon B. McKinney, Western Carolina University.

A Southern Family

BY Gail Godwin


From the publisher: Gail Godwin’s new novel is told in a multiplicity of voices; and what emerges is a profound and unforgettable portrait of a southern family for whom provocation has become a way of life. Lying at the center of the novel are two violent and mysterious deaths, one of which is Theo’s. The only member of the family who has been able to escape its regional, if not its emotional, clutches is Clare, Lily’s daughter by a previous marriage. Now a successful writer in New York, in the aftermath of Theo’s death she returns to the South with her European lover, Felix Rohr, to face her guilt at her neglect of Theo and, like the other members of her family, to confront the demons of self-doubt and hate that are her legacy from the past. A Southern Family is storytelling on a grand scale, rich with revelations of friendship, love, and the deep entanglements of family life. With it, Gail Godwin confirms her place among the masters of the contemporary American novel.

Rural Community in the Appalachian South

BY Patricia D. BEAVER


From the publisher: A fond indentification with a certain place, close ties with people, a shared history of experiences and values–these are elements commonly associated with the southern Appalachians. Despite dramatic social and economic changes in recent decades, this sense of belonging together, of community, still constitutes a moral system that comes into poignant focus in times of local crisis. This book explores several aspects of the social organization and system of values that make up this sense of community. Specific social ties, based primarily on kinship, give form and substance to the concept. Kin ties provide potential networks of association, and kinship also provides an idiom for the way in which people should behave toward one another. Kin ties give community residents personal identity through the expression of common roots, shared experiences, and shared values. Kinship, Beaver argues, is thus more than simple genealogical relationship; it is a cultural idea through which relationships are expressed and from which community homogeneity is derived.

Minstrel of the Appalachians: The Story of Bascom Lamar Lunsford

BY loyal jones


From the publisher: It is said that Bascom Lamar Lunsford would “cross hell on a rotten rail to get a folk song”—his Southern highlands folk-song compilations now constitute one of the largest collections of its kind in the Library of Congress—but he did much more than acquire songs. He preserved and promoted the Appalachian mountain tradition for generations of people, founding in 1928 the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, an annual event that has shaped America’s festival movement. Loyal Jones pens a lively biography of a man considered to be Appalachian music royalty. He also includes a “Lunsford Sampler” of ballads, songs, hymns, tales, and anecdotes, plus a discography of his recordings.

Last One Home

BY john ehle


From the publisher: Last One Home, the final book in John Ehle’s masterful Appalachian series that traces the King family from The Land Breakers in 1779, as the first white settlers in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, through the Great Depression in Last One Home. Ehle’s most comfortable venue, the mountain regions of western North Carolina, is shifted down into town, Asheville, for this capacious, highly engaging and wise, somewhat feckless family chronicle. Farm-boy Pinkney “”Pink”” Wright, with new wife Amanda King, finds more interest trading along turn-of-the-century Asheville’s Lexington Avenue than he does working ploughs and cows. That he is good at trading is beyond question: he quickly makes money and sets down roots in the growing city; there’s a house in town, the arrival of children–Fredrick, Hallie, Young (Pink Jr.); ultimately Pink branches off into selling insurance to mountain whites and town blacks during the early Twenties. And, in parallel with Pink’s rapidly increasing fortunes, there are the rising fortunes of Asheville itself–its expansion into a tourist town and local business center.

Strangers No More

BY Lucy S. Herring


From the publisher: In 1916, sixteen-year-old Lucy Saunders, a young black teacher from Orangeburg County, South Carolina, presided over a classroom of sixteen students, aged six to seventeen years old, at the Lower Swannanoa Colored School in Asheville. Lucy Saunder’s early classroom experience marked the beginning of a 52-year career in education. As a teacher, reading specialist, and community and educational leader, her contributions helped transform African-American education in North Carolina, particularly in the western region.

Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South

BY ron d. Eller


From the publisher: An examination of the social and economic history of the Appalachian South from 1880 to 1930, describing the revolutionary changes in mountain life as the region was swept up in the American drive toward industrial maturity. “As a benchmark book should, this one will stimulate the imagination and industry of future researchers as well as wrapping up the results of the last two decades of research. . . . Eller’s greatest achievement results from his successful fusion of scholarly virtues with literary ones. The book is comprehensive, but not overlong. It is readable but not superficial. The reader who reads only one book in a lifetime on Appalachia cannot do better than to choose this one. . . . No one will be able to ignore it except those who refuse to confront the uncomfortable truths about American society and culture that Appalachia’s history conveys.” –John A. Williams, Appalachian Journal

Cabins and Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina

By Douglas Swaim, Talmage Powell, and John Ager


From the publisher: Cabins & Castles was first published in 1981, a joint effort of the Historic Resources Commission and the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. The book became enormously popular with natives, tourists, historians, and preservationists as a primary source of knowledge about this richly historic mountain county. Cabins & Castles contains two major sections: a historical overview and the specific record of individual properties built in this area, primarily those constructed prior to 1930. Historical sketches of Buncombe County and Asheville, written by John Ager and Talmage Powell, are followed by Douglas Swaim’s essay on local architectural history. Numerous historical photographs illustrate these essays and provide context for the individual properties featured in the second section. Abundant photographs by Mary Jo Brezny accompany many of the specific architectural entries and complement Swaim’s informative and well-documented notes for each listed property. Rapid development in the urban and rural areas of Buncombe County makes this record timely and valuable.

The Mountains Have Come Closer: Poems 

BY Jim WAyne Miller


From the publisher: Mountains Have Come Closer is a collection of poems by Jim Wayne Miller which draw on his life experiences growing up and living in Appalachia. 

Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society

BY Theda Perdue


From the publisher: Slavery was practiced among North American Indians long before Europeans arrived on these shores, bringing their own version of this “peculiar institution.” Unlike the European institution, however, Native American slavery was function of warfare among tribes, replenishment of population lost through intertribal conflict or disease, and establishment and preservation of tribal standards of behavior. American Indians had little use, in primary purpose of slavery among Europeans. Theda Perdue here traces the history of slavery among the Cherokee Indians as it evolved from 1540 to 1866, indicating not only why the intrusion of whites, “slaves” contributed nothing to the Cherokee economy. During the colonial period, however, Cherokees actively began to capture members of other tribes and were themselves captured and sold to whites as chattels for the Caribbean slave trade. Also during this period, African slaves were introduced among the Indians, and when intertribal warfare ended, the use of forced labor to increase agricultural and other production emerged within Cherokee society. Well aware that the institution of black slavery was only one of many important changes that gradually broke down the traditional Cherokee culture after 1540, Professor Perdue integrates her concern with slavery into the total picture of cultural transformation resulting from the clash between European and Amerindian societies. 

Day of Miracles

BY CHARlotte young


From the author: “This volume, my fourth book of poetry, is different from the kind of poetry in my other books. Three dramas occupy a large part of the book. The longer one, a three-act musical drama, is the opus of my lifetime. During most of my life, I have carried the dream of writing it, hoping at first that it would be an oratorio, but have called it a musical drama. It is now in the hands of a composer, who may finish the musical part within the year and publish it separately, Cloud and Fire. In this volume I have placed between the heavy tough plays and dramatic monologs a few tender lyrics–sonnets and haiku, as a kind of dramatic relief. This book may be controversial. “Conversation in HEave” is a daring undertaking–possibly reckless. But it will be found reverent, with a feeling of awe–almost fear and trembling.” – Charlotte Young 1978 

From the Banks of The Oklawaha, Vol.I

BY Frank L. Fitzsimons


From the publisher: Part of a three volume set of the history of Henderson County and Hendersonville, embracing a scope of time from an Indian legend of a “Moon-Eyed People,” who inhabited the mountains of Western North Carolina before the Cherokee, up to 1961. For nearly 25 years, in some 5,000 programs, Frank FitzSimons told the audience of WHKP radio the story of their county. This compilation of those broadcasts contains hilarious anecdotes and tall tales; folklore and superstitions; history of commerce and people, prominent and not so well known; and more and more of the fabulous stories spun by “the old man on the mountain.”

Mountain Measure: A Southern Appalachian Verse Notebook

BY Francis Pledger Hulme


From the publisher: “Here is history at its best–a story of the Southern Appalachian people that has been gathered with great affection by a native son and told in poetry and song. Superb photography by Robert Amberg brings the people and the mountains to the words. Mountain Measure is a beautiful book and one all heritage-conscious Americans will be proud to add to their bookshelves. It is at once enjoyable, informative, and healthily nostalgic.” – Salisbury Post “Hulme is a talented poet, but aside from his artistry, he is extremely sensitive to mountain character, has mastery of folk idiom, and presents mountain folk with tenderness and appreciation.” – Cratis Williams

The Appalachian Consortium Press


From The Appalachian Consortium Press was founded in 1973 – the first publisher devoted to Appalachia. The Press published scholarly books and reference materials, including the first contemporary and comprehensive bibliography of the region, oral histories, environmental studies, and poetry. The Appalachian Consortium Press published multidisciplinary scholarly works in history, literature, photography, music, sociology, folklore, and environmental studies that together provided a holistic view of the region. The Press dissolved in 2004, and thereafter, the works that it published were no longer marketed and sold.

Blanford Barnard Dougherty, mountain educator

BY Ruby J. Lanier


From the publisher: Born in the mountain town of Boone, NC, in 1870, Blanford Barnard Dougherty remained there for a lifetime working for the public schools and teach training in his state. His greatest impact was probably felt in the northwestern counties of NC. Beginning his career as a teacher in a little one-room school, he later served as president for over half a century int he school he and his brother, Dauphin Disco, founded in 1899–today Appalachian State University. Numbers of teachers in public schools of NC have been trained in this institution. The story of Dougherty could not be told without including a history of Appalachian State Teachers College. The author traces the growth of the school from its beginnings as a small academy to a training school, a normal school, and finally a teachers college. 

Western North Carolina Since the Civil War

BY Ina W. Van Noppen, John J. Van Noppen


From the publisher: No region has undergone more dramatic changes in the last century than Western North Carolina. Published in 1973, Western North Carolina Since the Civil War takes a look at the mountain people and their uniquely structured economic, political, social, and cultural systems. The Van Noppens specifically explore the different qualities of the mountain people such as their institutions, traditions, customs, and arts and crafts. Beginning with a dark period of social and economic disintegration after the end of the Civil War, the study traces the mountain peoples’ lives from isolation to economic booms all while maintaining their traditions and cultural heritage.

A Long, Long Day For November

BY Moffitt Sinclair Henderson


From the publisher: “When Samuel Price Carson became a state senator at the age of 24, he launched a political career that led him to the National Congress in 1825, where he became deeply involved int he dramatic events that shaped the destiny of the South. Described by historians as the era of intellectual and political giants, the Capital and its parade of the great and the near-great are vividly and sometimes humorously portrayed through Carson’s eyes in this book, a biographical novel dealing with Carson’s friends and family in his Southern homeland, in the halls of Congress and later in the embattled Republic of Texas. Beloved by his numerous relatives, recognized and respected for his talents and abilities, Carson’s first few years in government were filled with romance and excitement. All seemed promising for the handsome young representative from North Carolina until personal tragedy struck deep, destroying his health and his hopes to serve his country.”

Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee

BY Rodney L. Leftwich


From the publisher: “The traditional arts among the Eastern Band of Cherokees which are surveyed in this document include basketry, pottery, woodcrafts, weaving, bead, shell, stone, leather and metal working. In the section on basketry, which receives the most coverage, there are descriptions of the materials, especially the native uses of vegetation in making baskets and dyes as well as explanations of weaving techniques, shapes, designs and uses of baskets. There is limited discussion regarding what is known from archeology about these crafts and brief mention of how and where materials might have been obtained in the more recent past. Since 1946, the Cherokee in western North Carolina, with the assistance of the Indian Service Personnel, have organized the Qualla Cooperative to maintain high quality work and to facilitate marketing of Cherokee crafts. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board along with the Cooperative have provided for the continuation, revival and demonstration of these hand crafts, some of which are on display at the Oconaluftee Indian Village. This re-creation of a Cherokee village of 1750 was conceived of by the Cherokee Historical Association and is open to tourists. The numerous photographs in the text come from the above named organizations as well as the author’s and other personal collections and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.”

The Grandfather and the Globe

BY Dell B. Wilson


From the publisher: “This is a chronicle of how the Civil War affected the lives of certain families living in the Grandfather Mountain region of Watagua County, NC, and in the adjacent Globe Valley. The main characters are fictional becuase insuffient sources exist on which to base a historical treatment. But the events and social history of the War are faithfully recorded, and authenticated in a 20-page bibliography. While the book is, in a sense, narrowly regional history, the author has managed, by use of a many-windowed approach in which the characters speak in the present tense or write letters, to spread the five year sweep of history from the Blue Ridge to coastal Roanoke Island, New Bern, and Kinston, up thorugh Virginia, back to East Tennessee and Stoneman’s raid into Western North Carolina in 1865.”

The Blue Ridge Parkway

BY Harley E. Jolley


From the publisher: “For 469 miles the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the crests of ridges and mountains on a ribbon-like course through some of the nation’s most spectacular scenery. Each year millions of visitors travel this ‘pleasure parkway,’ marveling at its breathtaking vistas and sensing the rich lore of a rugged wilderness…. Few visitors recognize, however, the dramatic achievements that the Parkway represents. In the beginning intense political infighting, on all levels of government, jeopardized the vision of a new kind of road. But once the future of the Parkway was secure, planners and construction engineers were faced with unique guidelines: build for pleasure, not speed; be careful with nature, leave no ugly scars; and retain rustic setting but provide modern conveniences and maximum recreational opportunities. All of this–the attractions and the colorful history–are a part of the total Parkway story, told by historian Harley E. Jolley, a specialist in the interpretation of pioneer history of the Parkway area. His account is a sensitive interpretation of the origins, development, and beauty of a road that has been described as the most scenic in America.”

A Biography of Thomas Wolfe

BY Neal F. Austin


From the publisher: “Neal Austin describes the Wolfe family with humor and pathos: ‘W. Oliver Wolfe had been considered Asheville’s most eligible widower. He had money, a good business, and, in his fine clothes, he was a handsome mad. So he was not long single: pert, energetic Julia Westall became his third wife.’ By 1903, there were seven children. “Each child was Papa’s favorite; each had some special quality which allowed Oliver to say, ‘He’s the best of the bunch!’ and mean every word of it. There was Frank, whose life had been misshapen by his father’s sporadic drinking. Frank all too frequently had to bring Oliver home when he’d had too much to drink. Then there was Effie. Effie was a quiet, competent girl who always did what was expected of her. She went softly through life, never reaching heights or depths. Her sister, Mabel, was perhaps Oliver’s real favorite in most ways. She was volatile and earthy. She loved her family wit a strange fierceness and loyalty. Next were the twins, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. Grover was almost a sprite. Humorous, loving, laughing, chattering, Grover had a fine mind and a charming outlook on the world. His twin, Ben, was the strange one. Unlike his brothers and sisters, Ben had pale blue, quiet eyes and a sardonic, knowing smile. And there was Fred, the noisy, stammering, born-salesman. He always knew the treasures of the world were his for the taking. And finally, there was Tom. Tom had bright, shiny eyes. They were brown, but there was a light in them unlike the soft brownness of Grover’s. His lower lip was full and out-thrust; it was not a pouty lip, but a stubborn one.'”

Strangers in High Places: The Story of the Great Smoky Mountains

BY Michael Frome


From the publisher: “Frome’s superbly written account tells the story of the Great Smoky Mountains and their inhabitants—Eastern Cherokee, back-country settlers, lumbermen, moonshiners, bears, and boars. Frome chronicles the power struggles, legislation, and land transactions surrounding the creation of the national park and discusses the continuing threats to the park’s natural beauty. The author brings his knowledge, experience, and insights to bear on “one of God’s special places.” He suggests alternatives to commercial overdevelopment and the destruction of the Great Smokies’ flora and fauna. Always emphasizing our inevitable relationship with our surroundings, Frome relates the story of the Great Smoky Mountains with respect and affection for the region, its people, and their history.”

Zeb Vance: Champion of Personal Freedom

BY Glenn Tucker


From the publisher: “Rugged, dynamic, controversial — Zebulon Baird Vance was one of the dominant personalities of the South for nearly half a century. Here is the first full-scale biography of this important figure. This colorful and carefully researched study centers on Vance’s dedication to democratic institutions during the Civil War. He maintained unyieldingly — alone of all the governors, North and South — the writ of habeas corpus in its full vigor, yet it was the Governor’s state, North Carolina, which made the greatest contribution in men and spirit to the Southern cause. As a staunch unionist before the war, Vance was dedicated to individual liberty. Under the Confederacy, where he was called ‘the war governor of the South’, he battled for personal rights. Again, in the reunited nation, he was a powerful debater in the Senate during the 1880s and 1890s.”

Thomas Wolfe

BY Bruce R. McElderry, Jr.

1964 (No award given in 1965)

From the author: “Reconsideration of Thomas Wolfe is timely. It is now 25 years since his death, and 34 years since his greatest novel, Look Homeward Angel, appeared. Sine World War II, most readers who grew up with Wolfe have naturally moved on to other interests, and now associate Wolfe with the remote prewar past. A whole new generation has appeared to whom Wolfe is not a contemporary but part of the enormous literary inheritance which must be sorted out. There is some feeling that Wolfe can be dispensed with. By a fresh survey of Wolfe’s career and his achievement, this book seeks to establish a more just perspective on Wolfe’s qualities and defects. Wolfe’s material was autobiographical; but his method was far more selective than has been recognized. In treating each novel I have shown not only the parallels between Wolfe’s life and the fiction based upon it; but also the omissions and the shifts of emphasis.”

 Stoneman’s Last Raid

BY Ina Woestemeyer Van Noppen

1962 (No award given in 1963)

From the author: “No actual [Civil War] campaigns were conducted in the mountains of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southewestern Virginia, and the Piedmont section of NC until the last weeks of the war. Yet every community was touched by recruitment and conscription of men, impressment of horses and supplies, taxes, and neighborhood skirmishes. Very little has been written about the impact of the war on the communities outside the battle areas. My study was made in an effort to reveal the effect of the war before as well as during the cavalry march known as Stoneman’s Raid.”

Human Gold from Southern Hills

BY David English Camak


From the book jacket: “David English ‘Daddy’ Camak was born on a cotton farm near Winnsboro, SC, on July 26, 1880. He is a product of hard work, Christian home training, old-fashioned evangelistic preaching, and one-room short-term schooling. He cobbled shoes at Wofford College and graduated, 1903, with the AB degree. In 1919 Wofford gave him the honorary degree of DD. As a lad he was serious and meditative. One day he knelt on a sandbar in a gully in the pines and gave his life to God. This book is the record of what God did with that life. It is full of heart-warming stories of young men and women who worked in the cotton mills and prayed for a chance to ‘be somebody in God’s world.’ They found it in Camak’s school, working one week and studying the next. This volume is also an important social document, telling in vivid pictures something of the painful changing of the pattern of life for hundreds of thousands of needy people–mainly southern highlanders who came down to the cotton mills where their large families could ear the necessities of life.” – Kenneth D. Coats, Wofford College

We Made Peace with Polio

BY Luther Robinson


From the book jacket: “Spring came early to Catawba Valley that year. So did polio. Beginning in isolated rural areas, scattered cases appeared until, by the end of June, polio had reached dangerous proportions. From a thousand fearful homes came anxious cries and appeals for help. People knew fear that summer because it was not the first time the Crippler had taken its toll in Piedmont Carolina. Three times it had swept as an epidemic through the area. By midsummer of 1953 the threat loomed larger than ever. Parents and civic leaders were keenly aware of the danger, but knowledge of the disease was limited. In desperation they appealed for a serum offering some hope. Luther Robinson, Lenior’s elementary school principal, stood through the day watching children enter the school for their vaccinations and then depart by way of the lollipop stand. The Robinsons had carefully planned these final summer weeks before their two daughters, Anita, 21, and Alta, 19, would return to college. This was to be their happiest summer. But even as Luther watched the youngsters being vaccinated, polio swiftly invaded his own home.”

The Spotted Hawk

BY Olive Tilford Dargan


From the book jacket: “Olive Tilford Dargan needs no introduction to a public familiar with her work. Beginning in 1904 with her first volume, Dargan has produced dramas, volumes of verse, and stories in marvelous variety and continued freshness of insight. And in 1932 she published her first novel, under the name of Fielding Burke. With her latest volume, The Spotted Hawk, she has again turned all her charm and imaginative power toward poetry. Some of the older poems include in the work have appeared in national magazines, but many of them, some quite recent, have never been previously published. Dargan is a native of Kentucky, but has been a North Carolinian for more than 25 years and lives in Asheville, NC, among the mountains she loves.”

My Mountains, My People

BY John Parris


From the publisher: “Retrace Western North Carolina’s cultural and natural history with one of its most beloved storytellers and folklorists, John Parris. This second collection of Parris’ work has been repackaged with an updated cover and is back in print for the first time in decades, and includes the complete original text and illustrations. For nearly four decades, John Parris’ brief yet illuminating non-fiction essays comprised his popular Asheville-Citizen-Times column, “Roaming the Mountains.” When Parris’ columns were first published as books in 1955, they became instant regional classics. Parris writes with the crispness of Hemingway and the grace of Thomas Wolfe. Indeed, he was a war correspondent like Hemingway and a decorated hero for his work with the Belgian underground during World War II. But the enduring legacy of John Parris is his work to document the culture and lives of Appalachian people. He was the last writer to capture many of the first person accounts recorded in this book. With every word, Parris links past to present in loving tribute to his Western North Carolina home, its mountains, and its people.”

Thomas Wolfe’s Characters

BY Floyd C. Watkins


From the book jacket: “From the moment Look Homeward, Angel was first published, the work of Thomas Wolfe has been hailed as a triumph in the art of writing fiction. From that mement, too, the citizens of his home town, Asheville, NC, have asserted, some proudly and some indignantly, that much of his fiction is actually based on fact. In this volume, Floyd C. Watkins has brought together all the publishable material pertaiing to the real life prototypes and actual settings of those vibrant Southern characters that run, pulsating, through Wolfe’s novels and short stories. In relating fact to fiction, Watkins has been able to dispel misunderstandings, confirm rumors, and shed much light on the achievement and creative techniques of this powerful and controversial genius.”

Tecumseh: Vision of Glory

BY Glenn Tucker


From the publisher: “In the years just preceding the War of 1812 one man, an Indian, dominated the American frontier—Tecumseh. He emerges here as a vivid, splendid character, a man of unusual talents and noble aims, whereas in much previous history and biography he has been depicted as a baffling, sinister, often bloody figure—a man of inscrutable motives whose scheming for a time actually threatened to delay the settlement of the Northwest. Tecumseh’s great oratorical powers, his statesmanship, his military acumen, his personal magnetism won him the passionate loyalty of his Indians and the admiration of even his white enemies. In nobility of character, in leadership and in devotion to a lost cause he suggests points of comparison with Robert E. Lee. Noted biographer Glenn Tucker expands the scope of his earlier books by focusing exclusively on the intimate knowledge of his subject; Tecumseh. Taking an in-depth look at this complex man, his life, and the times that shaped him, Tucker’s work appeals to history buffs as well as anyone interested in thoughtfully crafted American biographies.”

The French Broad

BY Wilma DYkeman


“In 1955, seven years before the publication of Rachel Carson’s famed Silent Spring, another woman fought to issue her own groundbreaking analysis of environmental concerns. Wilma Dykeman spent years studying the rivers of western North Carolina, but after she wrote her book The French Broad, her publishers tried to remove the chapters on pollution. However, Dykeman prevailed, and in addition to bringing river contamination to the nation’s attention, won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy, and inclusion in the Rivers of America series. The river itself became an important aspect of Dykeman’s work, as she focused much of her life and writing in the mountains of western North Carolina and east Tennessee.” – from

Wilma Dykeman was the first winner of the Thomas Wolfe Award for her 1955 book “The French Broad.” Photo: CITIZEN-TIMES