Pondering of the Past: Harper Lee, A Southern Literary Legacy

Harper Lee, A Southern Voice that Opened Eyes and Hearts Across America

A Southern Classic that Exposed a Broken Culture Caught in its Past

Nelle Harper Lee (1926 – 2016), simply Harper Lee to millions across America, a Southern voice for decades based on her first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. Her other book though written in the 1950s, Go Set a Watchman, did not see the light of day until 2015 and was published as a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize classic. 

Harper Lee wrote what she knew best, the Deep South of the 1930s from a child’s point of view. Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama provided her with ample opportunities to portray the irrationality of adult attitudes in the racist culture that permeated the South.

A footnote worth mentioning: the character in her novel named Dill was based upon her real childhood friend, Truman Capote. What were the odds that little old Monroeville, Alabama would rear up both Truman Capote and Harper Lee? Today, Monroeville, Alabama entertains thousands of visitors who flock into town to get a glimpse at the old courthouse and homes that Harper Lee wrote about in To Kill a Mockingbird. Might I suggest you might want to visit the link below to learn more-http://www.southernliterarytrail.org/monroeville.html

What’s Coming in 2023…

Shiloh Mystery Series, Fifth Anniversary of Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories & Testament, An Unexpected Return. Watch for updated new book covers in 2023 and a flurry of personal appearances to promote the anniversary of all three Shiloh novels, including Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest. Expanded distribution and availability of the printed and e-book editions coming.

July 2023, The Last Laird of Sapelo (Koehler Books) is coming. A historical novel that explains why at the end of the Civil War virtually all the freed Geechee slaves risked their lives and found their way back to the only homes and land they ever knew. And, why for the rest of the tumultuous Nineteenth Century the Spalding family became the only permanent white residents on Sapelo Island. A unique and near-forgotten legacy linked the post-war Geechee community and the Spaldings until the last Spalding passed away and the Geechee descendants fell victim the wishes and whims of the rich and famous in the first half of the 20th Century.

Watch for more about The Last Laird of Sapelo in the coming months…

Sapelo Island

Hometown Novel News Podcasts Launch

October not only ushered in another display of autumnal colors, it launched the first Hometown Novel News podcast hosted by Newnan Times-Herald, Newnan, GA thanks to Clay Neely, Co-Publisher.

October’s podcast launched with a discussion about the Enduring Legacy and Value of Local Libraries with special guest, Susan Crutchfield, Director of the Newnan Carnegie Library.

Newnan Podcast Network

Historic Newnan Carnegie Library

Special Guest: Susan Crutchfield

Hometown Novel News: Episode 1

OCTOBER 18, 2022 NEWNAN PODCAST NETWORK

Hometown Novel News: Episode 1

Hometown Novel News, November

A discussion about the value of locally owned book retailers today with a focus on what’s happening in downtown Newnan and Coweta County. Be sure to subscribe to learn more about this and future Hometown Novel News podcasts.

Southern Voices from the Past: Zora Neale Hurston

(Read all the way down and catch a recent interview of T. M. Brown by Canvas Rebel Magazine.)

Zora Neale Hurston, an Undeniable Southern Voice

1891-1960, Zora Neale Hurston 

Zora Neale Hurston, a Notable Southern Voice from the Past

Zora Neale Hurston became an influential African-American voice for Southern literature in the 1930s. She portrayed racial struggles in the early 20th Century South. Of her four novels and numerous published short stories, plays, and essays, her 1937 book Their Eyes Were Watching God brought her the most notoriety.

Born in Alabama, her family relocated to Eatonville, Florida in 1894. While attending Barnard College in New York, Zora became a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance and befriended Langston Hughes. She returned to North Florida and wrote her novels about the African-American experience, folklore, and her personal struggles as an African-American woman. She would be instrumental as an instructor at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida and later at North Carolina College for Negroes, now North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina.

Posthumous Notoriety, Continued Recognition

Zora Neale Hurston’s works continued mostly unrecognized until Alice Walker in 1975 published “In Search of Zora Neale Thurston” in Ms. Magazine. Two of her works published posthumously were Every Tongue Got to Confess (2001) and Barracoon (2018).

Posthumously Published by Harper Collins, 2018.

A little extra for those curious about T. M. Brown, Southern Author & President of Hometown Novel Writers Association, Inc.

Below is the recent interview by Canvas Reel Magazine. It provides a broad picture of Mike as an published author and founder of Hometown Novel Writers Association in Newnan, GA. There’s much to look forward to in 2023.

Upcoming appearances, Saturday, October 15th, Arts on the Creek Book Festival, Johns Creek, Georgia, 10 AM.

Southern Voices from the Past: Erskine Caldwell

Along with Tobacco Road (1932), God’s Little Acre (1933) destined Erskine Caldwell to become one of the greatest Southern Voices of the Twentieth Century.

After a stellar, extended career as an author of twenty-five novels, countless short stories, and twelve non-fiction books, Erskine Caldwell became a charter member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, 2000.

Born in 1903 to a Presbyterian minister and a schoolteacher mother in Moreland, GA, he lived an itinerant life in his early years living in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee before his family returned and settled back in Georgia near to Augusta. His father’s compassion for the desperately poor folks impacted Erskine. His first notable writing came while he studied at the University of Virginia. “The Georgia Cracker” (1926) established the themes that infused his future writing: political demagoguery, racial injustice, depraved religion, cultural sterility, and social irresponsibility. He continued to develop as a writer through several groundbreaking magazine articles before F. Scott Fitzgerald recommended him to Maxwell Perkins, the senior editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons. Besides many short stories and articles, Caldwell wrote three highly successive novels by 1940, Tobacco Road, God’s Little Acre, and Trouble in July. Through these novels, Caldwell brought attention to the Depression’s dire effects upon Georgia’s tenant farmers, abuse of southern industrial workers, the disintegration of family values, and punctuated the brutal, racist attitudes aroused by white southern fears of interracial relationships.

Though interest in his novels waned by the early 1940s, they received a resurgence in the paperback revolution in American publishing following WWII.

In Caldwell’s later years, he turned to non-fiction to focus on social injustices earned him some harsh criticism of his views during the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Though he lived and traveled extensively away from his beloved Southern roots and family home in Wren, GA, he wrote to then GA Governor Lester Maddox in 1967, “I think that I am as much a Georgian as Brer Rabbitt.” Peachtree Publishers published fittingly his final book in Georgia a month before his death, April 11, 1987, an autobiography, With All My Might.

Personal Insights

During a conference on Lost Southern Voices two years ago, I listened and learned how Erskine Caldwell influenced and interacted with the likes of Pat Conroy and Terry Kay. I live not ten minutes from Moreland, GA’s tribute to Erskine Caldwell. One cannot survey his humble beginnings and the collection of memorabilia on display without a sense of awe. How many more Southern novelists did he inspire?

Thanks to my extended conversation with folks behind Moreland’s exhibits on Erskine Caldwell, it is worthwhile to note that his novel successes and notoriety in the early 1930s stirred Madison Avenue publishers in New York to leave their sanctimonious ivory towers and scour the South to discover more nascent Southern voices.

Mixon, Wayne. “Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 16 May 2016. Web. 11 July 2018.

Watch for great news regarding my latest historical novel, The Last Laird of Sapelo”!

Subscribe to my newsletters and future mailings. You may get chosen to become a member of the launch team and get a free copy of my next novel. Be sure to visit @TMBrownAuthor on Facebook to catch my latest appearances and book signings.

Darien, Georgia’s Waterfront at the breakout of the Civil War.

Southern Voices from the Past – Caroline Miller

Throughout this fall of 2022, I’ll be focusing on former Southern voices that forged the way for all Southern authors…

Caroline’s inaugural novel, Lamb in his Bosom (1934), won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. Caroline was the first Georgian to earn this esteemed award, which changed Caroline’s life forever, and the floodgates opened for future Southern female voices.

The pioneer women in her family and hometown stories passed down as she grew up became the inspiration for Caroline’s writings. As an adult, she visited older folks throughout her community, pen in hand, to capture more stories from the past. Their tales of the past, replete with colorful backcountry sayings and distinctive dialects, made it into her book Lamb in His Bosom.

“Don’t let people tell you there is no drama in your life, or that your surroundings are too colorless for novel material. If you can’t find the novel in someone else’s life, look into your own. Perhaps you don’t have any Georgia pines to write about, but there is something else quite as lovely in your life. I am certain of that. There never was another you. Write the way you feel it.” Caroline Miller.

Excerpts from Biography of Caroline Miller.

Watch for more Southern Voices from our past that have established what it means to be a Southern Voice today.

T. M. Brown, Southern Author – Stories with a Message

Stay tuned to news about my latest historical novel, The Last Laird of Sapelo

Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories
Testament, An Unexpected Return
Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest
Theo Phillips and his wife Liddy face the challenges of retiring in Shiloh, a time-lost South Georgia town after raising their family and Theo’s long publishing career away from their rustic roots.
 

Older, and hopefully wiser.

Find out more about me and my pondering on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/T.M.BrownAuthor

Southern Voice of the Past: Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell.
1900 – 1949 

A Southern Novel Nearly Gone With the Wind

After a broken ankle immobilized her in 1926, Margaret Mitchell began developing a manuscript that would become Gone With the Wind, ultimately published in 1936. The success of Gone With the Wind made her an instant celebrity and earned a Pulitzer Prize for Margaret Mitchell, and the famed film adaptation released three years afterward. Over 30 million copies of Mitchell’s Civil War masterpiece have been sold and translated into 27 languages. Tragedy struck in 1949 when Mitchell was struck by a car, leaving Gone With the Wind as her only novel.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Mitchell experienced tragic twists and turns; with the loss of her mother in 1918 and then four years later and four months after her wedding, her first husband abandoned the marriage. She wrote nearly 130 articles for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine during that troubled time. By 1925 with her first marriage officially annulled, Mitchell married John Robert Marsh who encouraged her writing during her recovery from a broken ankle in 1926. By 1929, she nearly finished her thousand page Civil War and Reconstruction era story – A romantic novel, written from a Southern woman’s point of view, steeped in the history of the South and the tragic outcome of war.

Rest of the story lies in what happened next…

However, the grand manuscript remained tucked away until 1935 until she reluctantly out of fear showed it to a traveling book editor, who visited Atlanta in search of new material, and the rest is history.

What motivated the book editor to leave his ivory-tower office in New York City? 

Southern authors during the decades since earned a warmer reception from the dominant publishing houses as the appeal for Southern stories grew.

What Southern stories rest on your bookshelves at home as a testimony to their lasting imprint on our lives?

Sourced from Margaret Mitchell’s Biography.