Learn more about a few of Mississippi's most influential writers and the locations around the state that inspired their work:
With a good map and a little imagination, Mississippi even reads like a book. Mystery, intrigue, hope and romance define places both real and invented.
What, exactly, is responsible for cultivating those active minds, over the span of centuries and generations has yet to be answered. Notwithstanding the chemical reaction brought on by the levels of heat and humidity and an infusion of red clay, no one can quite explain the effect Mississippi has on its creative minds. The recipe consists of a unique landscape coupled with the dynamics and contradictions of the demography - not to mention sashaying to a distinct rhythmic beat. It ultimately compels and beguiles the imagination to, in effect, paint broad, colorful strokes depicting the mysteries of this area.
Nowhere has such a “small postage stamp of soil” yielded such extraordinary array of literary masters. We know some by their last names: Faulkner, Welty, Wright, Gilchrist, and Grisham; and some by their first names: Willie, Shelby, and Tennessee…but we know them all by their brilliance. The legacy of the literature before us has placed it in our grasp.
Each region showcases its own element of literary mastery. It is a tradition as deep and rich as the alluvial soil that defines the legendary Delta spreading across the state of Mississippi. It rises from the Mecca of Poetry and Mystery writers of the Hills region and in novels of John Grisham and the Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction by Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner. It flows through the Piney woods in Pulitzer Prize winning works by Eudora Welty and the memorable haunts of her Capitol City; and, finds a home on the clear blue waters and rippling sea grass of the Coast, birthplace of musician and author Jimmy Buffet.
Richard Ford grew up in a house across the street from Miss Welty’s in Jackson; Donna Tartt sat in classes taught by Willie Morris and Barry Hannah at the University of Mississippi; Larry Brown frequented book signings at Square Books in Oxford before he was sitting for his own; Shelby Foote, Walker Percy, Ellen Douglas, and Elizabeth Spencer grew up together, scant years apart, in the Mississippi Delta. The literary tradition is almost birthright in Mississippi; each succeeding generation accepting the baton and rushing onward. Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Sessums, Clifton Taulbert, Tom Franklin, and Greg Iles, lead today’s charge. In our world, the literary life is not one of dream, it is one of possibility.