Literature and Authors

Entries - Entry Category: Literature and Authors - Starting with D

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas (The Squire: A Picture from the Backwoods of North America) by Albert von Halfern was published in 1857 by Hoffman and Campe of Hamburg, Germany. The novel presents the story of Squire Russel, a squatter (or pioneer) in western Arkansas near the Indian Territory. Von Halfern’s novel was never translated into English and therefore did not achieve the popularity in the United States that fellow German author Friedrich Gerstäcker’s novels did. Nevertheless, his description of western Arkansas in the early 1840s, like Gerstäcker’s work, offers insight into the daily experiences and the social life of Arkansas’s early settlers. Von Halfern, born about 1816, came to America in 1838, landing in New York …

Devil’s Knot

Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three focuses on the facts of the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and the controversial court case that followed. One of the teenagers of the so-called West Memphis Three convicted in the case was sentenced to death, while two others were condemned to life in jail without parole; the three were freed in 2011. The murders remained unsolved. The book depicts a bleak picture of small-town Arkansas in the 1990s, providing background for how, in the author’s view, this case assumed a level of hysteria that in many ways equaled the Salem Witch Trials. The book provoked a larger discussion about …

Dockery, Octavia

Octavia Dockery was a writer, socialite, and eventual recluse who became embroiled in the “Goat Castle Murder” case in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1932. The case garnered national and international headlines when she was accused of having murdered her neighbor, Jennie Merrill. Dockery was never tried for the murder, owing to the fact that Merrill’s actual murderer was killed by Arkansas police before Dockery could be brought to trial. Her story, nevertheless, provides an excellent example of Southern Gothic come to life. Octavia Dockery was born at Lamartine Plantation in Columbia County, Arkansas, in 1865, the daughter of Brigadier General Thomas Pleasant Dockery, who commanded the Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and Laura Octavia West Dockery. She was …

Dog of the South, The

The Dog of the South is the third of five novels written by Charles Portis, Arkansas’s most famous author of fiction. Like each of the other four, it chronicles the odyssey of a young Southerner on some sort of mission—to collect a debt, settle some grievance, solve a mystery, or discover the divine secrets of an ancient order. Portis’s narratives—his most celebrated was True Grit, which was twice made into a movie—are commonly grouped in a category of fiction called the picaresque novel, about oddball characters searching for some meaning for their lives. Portis himself scoffed at such categorizations of his work. Published in 1979, The Dog of the South is the fictional Ray Midge’s account of his journey at …

Down from the Hills

Down From the Hills is a two-volume memoir written by Orval Eugene Faubus, the long-serving Arkansas governor who precipitated the national constitutional crisis over school desegregation in 1957 by sending soldiers to block nine Black children from entering Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Down From the Hills, which essentially covered his first four years as governor and included the school crisis, was published in 1980, while Down From the Hills II appeared in 1986 and covered the last eight years of his administration and his three-time struggle to regain the office while navigating personal and family ordeals. The two volumes, each on oversized eight-by-eleven-inch pages, totaled 1,074 pages. An earlier memoir, In This Faraway Land, published in …

Dragonwagon, Crescent

aka: Ellen Zolotow
Crescent Dragonwagon, born Ellen Zolotow, is the author of approximately fifty books and was one of the founders of Dairy Hollow House, one of the first bed-and-breakfast establishments in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her children’s books and her writings on food and cooking have won many awards. Ellen Zolotow was born on November 25, 1952, in New York City. Her mother, Charlotte Zolotow, was a writer and editor of children’s books. Her father, Maurice Zolotow, wrote biographies of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Billy Wilder. Zolotow attended school in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, but did not finish high school. She left home when she was sixteen years old, married Mark Parsons on March 20, 1970, and lived in a commune …

Dresbach, Beverley Githens

Beverley Githens Dresbach was a poet and journalist who lived in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) with her husband, poet Glenn Ward Dresbach. She was active in the cultural life of Eureka Springs and in the activities of the Arkansas community of poets and writers in her time. Beverley Githens was born in Wilmette, Illinois, on July 4, 1903, to John Nichols Githens and Elizabeth Beverley Barr Githens. She was educated in Chicago, Illinois, at the Bayeson School in 1919, the University of Chicago in 1927–28, and the Sherwood Music School in 1929–30. Details about her life in Illinois are sketchy. She worked at Carson’s, a Chicago department store—at first selling women’s dresses and then as an elevator operator in the …

Dresbach, Glenn Ward

Glenn Ward Dresbach was an internationally known poet with ten books to his credit when he moved to Eureka Springs (Carroll County) in 1941. After his arrival in the Ozarks, Dresbach continued to write and publish poetry, including numerous poems about the Ozarks. Glenn Ward Dresbach was born near Lanark, Illinois, on September 9, 1889, to William Henry Dresbach and Belle Weidman Dresbach. His parents were farmers, and he was an only child. Dresbach graduated from Lanark High School and attended a special three-year program at the University of Wisconsin from 1908 to 1911, where he served as editor of Wisconsin Magazine and won a national intercollegiate award for poetry. Soon after graduating from college, Dresbach began a long career …

Dumas, Ernest Clifton (Ernie)

Ernie Dumas was the dean of the Arkansas political press corps for most of the second half of the twentieth century. His days as a journalist extended back to high school, when he worked for the El Dorado Daily News, and he was later an associate editor and a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and a columnist for the Arkansas Times.  Ernest Clifton Dumas was born on December 13, 1937, in El Dorado (Union County), the younger of two sons born to Joseph Clifton Dumas and Berta Canady Dumas. His mother was an educator who stopped teaching when she got married, but she taught Dumas to read before he started school and later taught his son as well. Dumas grew up in El Dorado and graduated from El Dorado High School in 1955.  At the start of his …

Dumas, Henry

Henry Dumas was a critically acclaimed author of poetry and fiction who captured, in some of his finest work, many of his childhood experiences as an African American living in southern Arkansas. Henry Dumas was born on July 20, 1934, in Sweet Home (Pulaski County), sometimes called Sweetwater, and he continued to live there until he moved with his family to Harlem when he was ten years old. Almost no information about Dumas’s childhood is available, yet his life in the deep South and the desolate conditions confronting black Southerners in that era are insightfully depicted in several of his writings, including his widely admired short story, “Goodbye, Sweetwater.” Dumas graduated from Harlem’s Commerce High School in 1953 and then …