Perhaps nowhere else in the South is storytelling celebrated with the same passion and reverence as it is in Mississippi. Our literary tradition runs deep, from great American novelists like William Faulkner and Eudora Welty to modern-day bestselling authors like John Grisham and Angie Thomas. Once you’ve spent a little time here, you’re sure to understand why so many Mississippians have been inspired to share their stories with the world.
William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, and lived much of his life in Oxford at his home, Rowan Oak. Visitors touring the the Greek Revival home will gain a glimpse into the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists and winner of a Nobel Prize for literature and two Pulitzer Prizes. The highlight of the tour is Faulkner’s office, which displays a typewriter the author used to produce many of his works.
Ida B. Wells was a pioneer of the civil rights movement and a powerful voice for change, using her writing talents as a teacher, journalist, and public speaker to invoke global outrage against lynching in the Jim Crow South. The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum is located inside the Spires Bolling House, in Holly Springs, where Wells-Barnett was born to an enslaved family.
Eudora Welty lived nearly 80 years at a Tudor Revival home in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood that was built by her parents in 1925. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the home museum (a National Historic Landmark since 2004) and wander through Welty’s beautifully landscaped gardens. A permanent exhibit based on her memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings, traces Welty’s path to becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
The great American playwright, Thomas “Tennessee” Williams, was born in Columbus, Mississippi and first lived in a colorful Victorian-style home that now serves as the Columbus Welcome Center. (Fun Fact: The house is not in its original location. It was moved to Main Street in 1993 and restored there.) The home is open for tours Monday through Saturday and staffed with helpful people who can help you make the most of your visit to the area.
The Mississippi Writers Trail honors our state’s most celebrated writers at sites associated with their lives and legacies. The Trail was launched in 2019, with the dedication of the Margaret Walker Alexander trail marker and has since added new markers for William Faulkner, Shelby Foote, Ida B. Wells, Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty.
The Mississippi Book Festival, held annually on the grounds of the Mississippi State Capital, in Jackson, has been one of the state’s most popular events since its premiere in 2015. The 2023 event is scheduled for August 19 is expected to feature nearly 100 authors in attendance and 50 panel discussions. Past attendees have included Richard Ford, Salman Rushdie, John Grisham, Greg Iles, and Jesmyn Ward.