Literature and Authors

Entries - Entry Category: Literature and Authors

Campbell, Tom Walter

Tom Walter Campbell was a well-known Arkansas attorney and political figure in the first half of the twentieth century. A member of the Arkansas General Assembly, he also sought election to higher office but was unsuccessful. In his later years, he authored some well-regarded historical works. Tom W. Campbell was born on September 7, 1874, to John Stone Campbell and Alice Hufstedter Campbell on a farm near the Eleven Point River in Randolph County. After receiving his early education in the local schools, he attended Add-Ran Christian University (now Texas Christian University) in Thorp Springs, Texas. Following his sophomore year in 1894, he returned to Randolph County, and, in 1895, he married Jenny Roberts, with whom he would have three …

Carlisle, Irene Jones

Originally from Texas, Irene Carlisle lived much of her life in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she became a widely respected teacher, poet, and folklorist. Carlisle taught Latin and English at Springdale High School; published poetry in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and journals; published a well-received book of poetry; and collected folksongs and folklore in northwestern Arkansas. Irene Jones was born to Stephen and Tela Jones on May 24, 1908. She married Jack Carlisle in 1929, and the couple moved to Fayetteville. She earned a BA from Texas Christian University in 1929. During World War II, her husband served in the U.S. Navy, and she worked as a welder in a California shipyard; she composed a popular poem, “Welder,” about …

Castoro, Laura Parker

Bestselling author Laura Parker Castoro has published more than forty novels across multiple genres with major publishing houses such as HarperCollins, Dell Books, Simon and Schuster, Berkley, Avon, Warner, MIRA, Kensington, Pocketbooks, and St. Martin’s Press. Under the name Laura Parker, she writes historical and contemporary romance, westerns, and sagas. She writes contemporary African American and women’s fiction as Laura Castoro. Under pen name D. D. Ayres, she created the bestselling romantic suspense series K-9 Rescue. Laura Parker was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 18, 1948, to Dr. David E. Parker and Mary Dell Parker Johnson. She has three brothers: David E. Parker Jr., Michael J. Parker, and Kenneth L. Johnson III. The family moved to Pine Bluff …

Centennial History of Arkansas

Dallas Tabor Herndon’s three-volume Centennial History of Arkansas (1922) was created in the early days of the Arkansas History Commission (AHC), now the Arkansas State Archives. Herndon, the AHC’s first director, wrote that “the state had no history that could be relied upon as authentic,” and he saw a need for a more “comprehensive state history” to aid him in his work with researchers at the AHC. Herndon believed that his history would be more reliable and accessible than any other before it, such as Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Fay Hempstead’s multi-volume Historical Review of Arkansas, published in 1911, when Herndon first began work at the AHC. Unlike Hempstead, Herndon was not from Arkansas, and thus he believed his …

Cleaver, Leroy Eldridge

Leroy Eldridge Cleaver was one of the best-known and most recognizable symbols of African-American rebellion in the 1960s as a leader of the Black Panther Party. In the 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and later an active member of the Republican Party. Eldridge Cleaver was born on August 31, 1935, in Wabbaseka (Jefferson County). His father, Leroy Cleaver, was a nightclub entertainer and waiter; his mother, Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver, taught elementary school. Many accounts portray Leroy Cleaver as a violent man who beat his wife. Eldridge Cleaver recalled those beatings as the beginning of his “ambition to grow up tall and strong, like my daddy, but bigger and stronger than he, so I could beat him to the …

Coal to Diamonds

Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir (2012) was written by Beth Ditto, singer and songwriter for the band Gossip, and co-written by queer popular fiction writer Michelle Tea. In the memoir, Ditto writes about growing up poor in Judsonia (White County) with five siblings, as well as the rampant sexual abuse her female family members experienced. She also discusses coming into her own as a singer, femme-identified lesbian, and feminist. As Ditto recounts, her youth was often turbulent. She frequently lived with her aunt Jannie, along with her aunt’s two children and three cousins placed there by social services. Despite the fact that she was often left with the responsibility of cooking, cleaning, and looking after the children, Ditto describes the …

Coffin, Frank Barbour

Frank Barbour Coffin was an African-American pharmacist who owned and operated one of the earliest drug stores serving the black community of Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was also one of the country’s unnoted African-American poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century, barely remembered today for his two volumes of poetry and other works printed in various publications. F. B. Coffin was born on January 12, 1870, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the son of Samuel and Josephine Barton Coffin. Holly Springs was a small town in northern Mississippi, about forty miles from Memphis, Tennessee. His mother died before he was twelve years old, leaving Coffin and at least four other siblings to be raised by their father, a farmer. Little …

Cohn, Morris M.

Morris M. Cohn was a nationally recognized lawyer, an author who published articles on a wide variety of subjects, and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) civic leader. Morris M. Cohn was born on March 14, 1852, in New Albany, Indiana, to Mathias Cohn—a businessman, newspaperman, educator, and lawyer—and Theresa Cohn; sources differ on the number of siblings he had, from seven to ten. Cohn received his early education in the grammar schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. He later received private instruction in German, Hebrew, and law. At some point, the family settled in Arkansas. In 1873, he moved from Woodruff County to Little Rock, where he met Addie Mary Ottenheimer, whom he married on September 16, 1886; they had three children. …

Collins, Andrew Jefferson “Ace”

aka: Ace Collins
Author Ace Collins has more than ninety published books, including children’s books, biographies, and books on history, culture, and faith. Together, his books have sold more than 2.5 million copies. In 2015, Collins’s book Color of Justice won the Christy Award for Suspense Book of the Year. Andrew Jefferson Collins, an only child, was born on August 17, 1953, in Rantoul, Illinois, to Doyle E. Collins and T. Charlene Shell Collins. His father taught math and was also a basketball coach, while his mother taught first grade for most of her career. In his early childhood, Collins spent most of his time in Royal, Illinois, but he also spent time in Arkansas, where his father was a student at what …

Command and Control

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety is a 2013 book by investigative journalist Eric Schlossser that explores the history of the United States’ nuclear weapons, efforts to control them, and accidents involving them, focusing particularly on the September 1980 Titan II Missile explosion in Arkansas. The book was the basis for a 2016 documentary film directed by Robert Kenner. Author Eric Schlosser previously wrote the New York Times bestsellers Fast Food Nation (2001) and Reefer Madness (2003). The 632-page Command and Control, published by Penguin Press, explored the United States’ development of nuclear weapons and national policy regarding them from their origins in World War II into the twenty-first century. It also documented …

Cone, James Hal

James Hal Cone became known as the father of black liberation theology, which he described as a “theological identity that was accountable to the life, history, and culture of African-American people.” Cone often discussed the impact that growing up in Bearden (Ouachita County) and attending the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church had on his life. Both powerfully influenced his thinking: Bearden for the pain and suffering inflicted on African Americans, and Macedonia as a place where he encountered Jesus. Cone published numerous books on black liberation theology and lectured at more than 1,000 universities and community organizations throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Born to Charles and Lucy Cone in Fordyce (Dallas County) on …

Cotton in My Sack

Cotton in My Sack is a juvenile novel published in 1949, written and illustrated by popular children’s author Lois Lenski. It tells the story of a sharecropping family in eastern Arkansas that grows cotton. Though no years are mentioned, the book seems to be set in the late 1940s. Each chapter represents a narrative episode involving the family as related from the viewpoint of Joanda, the oldest child. Other family members include Joanda’s father and mother, along with Joanda’s siblings: brother Ricky and baby sister Lolly. Chapter titles indicate the key element in the chapter, such as “School,” “Saturday in Town,” “A Merry Christmas,” “The Library Book,” “The Bridge,” and “A New Year.” Lenski’s depiction of the family and its …

Coulter, Hope Norman

Little Rock (Pulaski County) author Hope Coulter is a novelist, short-story writer, poet, children’s book author, and professor. Coulter has received several of Arkansas’s top literary prizes, including the Porter Prize for fiction and the Laman Library Writers Fellowship. Poems and stories by Coulter have also received awards or recognition in contests from such national literary journals as the North American Review, Terrain.org, the Southwest Review, and Louisiana Life. Hope Elizabeth Norman was born on January 25, 1961, in New Orleans, Louisiana, but spent her early years in Little Rock. Her father, Tom David Norman, was then a pathologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Her mother, Hope Johns Norman, as a member of the Women’s Emergency …

Courting Miss Hattie

Courting Miss Hattie is a 1992 romance novel by award-winning author Pamela Morsi. The novel is set in Arkansas around 1911. The time frame is established by a reference in the book to the New Madrid earthquakes (1811–1812) having occurred 100 years prior. Although no exact location is named in the book, the most likely setting for the novel is northeastern Arkansas based on references to the New Madrid earthquakes, descriptions of the topography, mentions of crops raised (cotton and the new crop, rice, whose introduction to the area is a subplot of the novel), and proximity to the Mississippi River. The county where the story takes place is also depicted as being significantly north of Helena (Phillips County). The …

Crawford, Phyllis

aka: Josie Turner
Phyllis Crawford was the author of children’s books and adult fiction, including Hello, the Boat!, which won the Ford Foundation award for the best book manuscript for children in 1938. Over several decades, Crawford also contributed to the New Yorker and other magazines under the pseudonym of Josie Turner. She often drew upon her experiences growing up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to frame the plots of her stories. Phyllis Crawford was born on February 8, 1899, in Little Rock to T. Dwight Crawford and Bessie Williams Crawford. Her father was an attorney and worked for the Arkansas Supreme Court for many years. She had one brother, John, also an author. The Crawford family resided at 416 Fairfax, in one …

Crazyhorse

Crazyhorse is a literary journal, published twice yearly, containing short stories, poetry, and essays. It was based in Arkansas for nearly two decades and has, during its lifespan, published work by many award-winning writers, including John Updike, Raymond Carver, John Ashbery, Robert Bly, National Book Award winners Ha Jin and Charles Wright, Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic, and former Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Other writers have been Guggenheim fellows, received National Endowment of the Arts fellowships, or have had work selected for the Best American anthologies. Poet Tom McGrath founded the journal in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, calling it Crazy Horse after the rebel Native American leader. In the turbulent 1960s, McGrath used the magazine as a platform to …

Crisis at Central High

The book Crisis at Central High, based on the events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was a memoir written by school administrator Elizabeth Huckaby (1905–1999) and published in 1980. A prestigious television movie based on the book, also titled Crisis at Central High, was filmed at Central and starred Academy Award–winning actress Joanne Woodward. For her portrayal of Huckaby in the 1981 film, Woodward was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award. In September 1957, nine African-American students attempted to attend the all-white Central High. After they were prevented from entering by members of the state’s National Guard, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division was ordered by President Dwight …

Crow, Charles Patrick (Pat)

Charles Patrick (Pat) Crow was an Arkansas-born writer and editor who had an exceptional career at esteemed publications such as the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, and the New Yorker. He was a meticulous editor who earned some acclaim for his rigorous attention to style, usage, and linguistics, particularly in a long career at the New Yorker. Before his career in New York, starting in late 1962, Crow had a brief sojourn as a writer and editor at the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette, forerunners of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Pat Crow was born on July 14, 1938, in Jonesboro (Craighead County) to Judson L. Crow and Lorene Gibson Crow. His father was a machinery salesman and …

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 more than fifty books in a number of genres. She was also one of the founders of Dairy Hollow House, one of the earliest bed-and-breakfast inns in Arkansas and the Ozarks. Her children’s books and her culinary writings have won many awards. She received the Porter Prize in 1991. Ellen Zolotow was born on November 25, 1952, in New York City. Her mother, Charlotte Zolotow, was a writer of children’s books and a renowned children’s book editor at Harper Collins. 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, and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but did not finish high …

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 …

Eaves, Thomas Cary Duncan

Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves taught in the English Department at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-seven years, ultimately being named a UA University Professor. Along with fellow UA professor Ben Drew Kimpel, Eaves wrote the definitive biography of eighteenth-century novelist Samuel Richardson; they also published numerous articles on Richardson and the works of twentieth-century poet Ezra Pound. Highly regarded as a scholar, Eaves was also renowned for the liveliness of his lectures and was a favorite among students in his department. Born in Union, South Carolina, on October 11, 1918, Duncan Eaves (who published under the name T. C. Duncan Eaves) was the only child of Donald Matheson Eaves and Louisa Duncan Eaves. He attended …

Elgin, Suzette Haden

aka: Patricia Ann Wilkins
Patricia Ann Wilkins was a linguist, feminist, and science fiction writer from the Missouri Ozarks who adopted northwestern Arkansas as her home after retiring from teaching in the 1980s. While living in Huntsville (Madison County), she wrote her cult classic Native Tongue novels and her widely acclaimed Ozark Trilogy under the name Suzette Haden Elgin. Patricia Ann Wilkins was born on November 18, 1936, in northeastern Missouri. Her father, Gaylord Lloyd, was a lawyer, and her mother, Hazel Wilkins, was a teacher. Wilkins had spinal polio as a child, as she related in her personal blog in the early 2000s, and refused to go through with a major surgery to treat it using bones from her hips. Instead, she opted …

Eno, Clara Bertha

Clara Bertha Eno has been called Arkansas’s first lady of history. She devoted her life to researching and recording Arkansas history and collecting Arkansas archival material. Her three published works are History of the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs 1897–1934 (1935), with Frances Marion (Mrs. Frederick) Hanger, Historic Places in Arkansas (1940), and History of Crawford County, Arkansas (1950). During the 1920s and 1930s, she authored numerous historical newspaper articles. In 1940, she compiled Information of Fifty-Five Revolutionary [War] Soldiers buried in Arkansas. Although never published, it has long been a mainstay for early Arkansas research. Eno was born on February 14, 1854, in Van Buren (Crawford County), the daughter of Ellen (Ward) and Jonathan Adams Eno. Her father was …

Epperson, Tom

Tom Epperson is a producer, screenwriter, and novelist from Malvern (Hot Spring County). He is known for his collaborations with fellow Arkansan Billy Bob Thornton: One False Move (1992), A Family Thing (1996), The Gift (2000), Don’t Look Back (1996), Camouflage (2001), and Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012). In addition to his credits as a writer of Hollywood films, Epperson authored the popular crime novels The Kind One (2008) and Sailor (2012). Tom Epperson was born on May 22, 1951, in Nashville (Howard County). A year later, the Eppersons moved to Malvern. His father, Wendell Epperson, was a lawyer and municipal judge, while his mother, Mabel, stayed home with their four children. In 1963, Epperson met Billy Bob Thornton when he …

Exact and Very Strange Truth, The

The Exact and Very Strange Truth is a novel by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Ben Piazza. It is a fictionalized account of his growing up in Little Rock during the 1930s and 1940s. Although he earned more acclaim as an actor and director, Piazza had been a writer since his days at Little Rock Central High School, where he edited the literary magazine. While a student at Princeton University, his short story “The Death of Two Kittens” was published in the Nassau Literary Magazine. He started working on the novel while starring on Broadway in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1963. During the run of that show, he wrote during the day and performed at night. He finished …

Featherstonhaugh, George William

George William Featherstonhaugh (pronounced “Fanshaw”) was the first U.S. government geologist. In 1834, the War Department appointed him to make a geological survey of Arkansas. He later conducted geological surveys of Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, and the Carolinas. His importance to Arkansas goes beyond his work as a geologist, for he was one of the first to leave behind an accurate record of life in the early Arkansas Territory. Born in London, England, on April 9, 1780, to George and Dorothy Simpson Featherstonhaugh, George William Featherstonhaugh grew up at Scarborough, an ancient city on the North Sea 221 miles from London and forty-three from York. Featherstonhaugh spent much of his childhood climbing over the cliffs, gathering sea bird eggs to sell …

Ferguson, John Lewis

John Lewis Ferguson—historian, minister, author, archival administer, and historic preservationist—served as Arkansas state historian and the director of the Arkansas State Archives (previous called the Arkansas History Commission) from 1960 to 2005, only the third person to hold that position since 1905. His forty-five-year tenure was the longest in the agency’s history. John Ferguson was born on March 1, 1926, on a farm near Nashville (Howard County) to farmer and World War I veteran Clarence Walter Ferguson and his wife, Nannye N. McCrary Ferguson. As a child attending the rural York’s Chapel School, he read every history book he could find. Early on, he decided to pursue a career in history. He graduated from Nashville High School in 1944. In 1951, he was …

Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas (FWCA)

The Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas (FWCA) incorporated in 1989 as a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of local writers and assistance in helping them get published. The group got its start in the spring of 1984 when Petei Engleby, owner of a secondhand bookstore in Little Rock (Pulaski County), posted a sign in her store inviting anyone interested in writing romances to meet with her. Engleby and three other women—Chrissy (Leister) Willis, Mary Watson, and Cathy Johnson—met and organized as the Central Arkansas Romance Authors. The group grew in size and, at the beginning of 1986, applied to become a chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) but was advised that local chapters had to incorporate, that …

Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, The

The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs is a 2003 novel by international bestseller Alexander McCall Smith, who was born in Zimbabwe and has taught law both there and in Edinburgh, Scotland. A follow-up to Portuguese Irregular Verbs (originally self-published in 1996), the novel takes place partially in and around the campus of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs follows the comic misadventures of Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology in Regensburg, Germany, who is the pompous author of the linguistic monograph Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Von Igelfeld, who had regularly spurned invitations to lecture in the United States, finds himself seeking an opportunity to do exactly that …

Finger, Charles Joseph

Charles Joseph Finger was a prolific writer who settled in Fayetteville (Washington County) after an early life of travel and adventure; one of his many adventure books won the Newbery Prize for children’s literature. In addition to writing and publishing a magazine from his Fayetteville farm, Finger was employed from 1936 through 1938 as an editor of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) guidebook, Arkansas: A Guide to the State. Charles Joseph Frederick Finger was born on December 25, 1867, in Willesden, England. His father, also named Charles, was a German tailor recently come to England from Germany. His mother was Julia Connoly Finger, a young Irish woman. He attended several small private pre-collegiate institutions, ending with Mr. Harvey’s Grammar School. …

Fleming, Victor Anson (Vic)

Victor Anson “Vic” Fleming of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a judge, author, and adjunct law professor. He also writes crossword puzzles that appear in prestigious national publications, including the New York Times. In 2017, Fleming and former President Bill Clinton co-authored a Times crossword. Fleming appeared in the 2006 documentary film Wordplay, playing guitar and singing an original song, “If You Don’t Come Across (I’m Gonna Be Down),” about the relationship between a Times crossword and its solver. Vic Fleming was born on December 26, 1951, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Elijah Anson Fleming Jr., who was a General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) manager, and Norfleet Cranford Fleming, who worked as an administrative assistant for the Mississippi legislature. The family …

Fletcher, John Gould

John Gould Fletcher, poet and essayist, is widely acknowledged as one of the state’s most notable literary figures. He enjoyed an international reputation for much of his long career, earned the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and participated in movements that shaped twentieth century-literature. John Gould Fletcher was born on January 3, 1886, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Adolphine Krause and John G. Fletcher. After the Civil War, Fletcher’s father formed a successful cotton brokerage firm with fellow veteran Peter Hotze, bringing him wealth and prominence. Fletcher’s mother had abandoned the prospect of a musical career to tend to her ailing mother and likely centered her artistic ambitions on her only son. Fletcher was reared and educated by tutors in …

Forbush, Nellie

Nellie Forbush is a fictional character created by bestselling author James A. Michener (1907–1997). A native of Arkansas, the character of Nellie first appears in Michener’s book Tales of the South Pacific, which was published in 1947. Tales of the South Pacific, a series of nineteen interrelated stories based on Michener’s experiences in the U.S. Navy while stationed on the New Hebrides Islands in the Pacific during World War II, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Michener explained that he had wanted to write observations of what he called the “valiant people” he met there: “the French planters, the Australian coast watchers, the Navy nurses, the Tonkinese laborers, the ordinary sailors and soldiers who were doing the work, and …

Ford, Edsel

Although Edsel Ford did not arrive in the Arkansas Ozarks until the age of eleven, he lived most of his adult life in the region, consistently incorporated its culture into his writing, and became one of its most distinguished poets. At the time of his death, at the age of forty-one, he was a well-established regional poet who was beginning to earn national literary attention. Edsel Ford was born to James Tilden Ford and Nora Louisa Ford in Eva, Alabama, on December 30, 1928. His family farmed cotton, and he was one of four children. When Ford was two years old, he moved with his family to Roswell, New Mexico. In 1939, the family moved to Avoca (Benton County) to operate …

Ford, Richard Carrel

Richard Carrel Ford is a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist whose formative years in Little Rock (Pulaski County) helped shape his career as a writer. He has written seven novels and five collections of short works and was the first person to be awarded both the Pulitzer and the PEN/Faulkner Award for the same book. Ford was born on February 16, 1944, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Parker Carrel Ford and Edna Ford. His mother was a native of Arkansas, and his grandfather, Ben Shelley, managed the Marion Hotel in downtown Little Rock. As a child, Ford often spent his summers at the hotel and, during his teen years, worked as a lifeguard at the Little Rock Country Club. Ford recalls that his residence …

Froug, William (Bill)

Emmy Award–winning Bill Froug was a writer, producer, author, educator, and television executive whose career in radio and television had a significant impact upon the entertainment industry. Film critic Roger Ebert once said of Froug, “He is not merely as sharp as a tack; he is the standard by which they sharpen tacks.” William (Bill) Froug was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 26, 1922. He was raised by adoptive parents Rita and Bill Froug in Little Rock (Pulaski County), residing first in Hillcrest and later in the Quapaw Quarter. Froug attended Rightsell Elementary School, East Side Jr. High, and Little Rock Senior High School (now Central High). Summer breaks were often filled with Arkansas Travelers baseball games and …

Fulks, Clay

Clay Fulks was a notable figure in Arkansas’s limited history of radical leftism. He was a repeat candidate for governor on the Arkansas Socialist Party ticket and published articles in such nationally important periodicals as the American Mercury. Clay Fulks was born on January 28, 1880, in Pearson (Cleburne County) to Whitman Whifield Fulks and Martha Ellen Thompson Fulks. He had five brothers and four sisters. He graduated from Heber Springs High School in 1903. From 1909 to 1915, he wrote articles for newspapers in White County, where he also served as a public school teacher, and, in 1916, edited a column titled “Department of Economics” in the Searcy Daily News; he also contributed to the Milwaukee Leader from 1920 …

Gardner, Virginia

Virginia Gardner was a journalist and left-wing activist. At one time a member of the Communist Party, she was also the author of a well-received biography of Louise Bryant, the wife of Russian Revolution chronicler John Reed. Although born in Oklahoma, Gardner spent most of her youth in Arkansas. Virginia Gardner was born on June 27, 1904, in Sallisaw, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). She was the youngest of three daughters born to Gertrude Boltswood Gardner and John Gardner, who was a banker. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) when she was two. That same year, her father contracted tuberculosis. He was taken to Colorado for treatment, and he sometimes returned there in the summers. Gardner’s mother died when …

Garner, Claud Wilton

Claud Wilton Garner was a man of many interests and talents. He began as a musician, became a merchant and an advocate for farmers, and, when he was fifty years old, began writing fiction. In addition to his interest in writing, he also composed a number of pieces of music. The sheet music for these compositions, along with the recordings, are located in the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington (Hempstead County). Garner is remembered both as an Arkansas author and as a worker for farmers in Southwest Arkansas and in the Rio Grande Valley. Claud Garner was born in Hope (Hempstead County) on August 29, 1891, to Thomas Jefferson Garner and Ida Hope Haynes Garner. He had three sisters …

Gilchrist, Ellen

Winner of the 1984 National Book Award for Fiction for her collection of short stories, Victory Over Japan, Ellen Gilchrist has been declared “a national treasure” by the Washington Post for her various works, which at present constitute a collection of twenty-three books. She has received numerous other awards for her work, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Fiction. A Mississippi native, she currently lives in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was for many years a faculty member at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Gilchrist was born on February 20, 1935, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, the second child and only daughter of Aurora (Alford) and William Garth Gilchrist. Much of her young life was spent …

Giles, Janice Holt

Janice Holt Giles was a popular and prolific autobiographer and author of historical fiction, much of which addresses themes relating to the rural Appalachian foothills of south-central Kentucky, her adopted home state. Although never quite achieving the stature of literary contemporaries such as Marjorie Rawlings, Jesse Stuart, or Eudora Welty, she was, nevertheless, an accomplished and critically acclaimed writer whose books were frequent bestsellers. Janice Meredith Holt was born in Altus (Franklin County) on March 28, 1905. She was the second child of John Albert Holt and Lucy Elizabeth McGraw Holt, both of whom were educators. The Holts’ first child died at birth. Two other children, a daughter and son, were born in 1907 and 1910. Janice Meredith was to …

Goodspeed Histories

The Goodspeed histories of Arkansas are a collection of six volumes originally published individually between 1889 and 1891 (as well as a seventh volume published in 1894) by the Goodspeed Publishing Company of Chicago, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee; and St. Louis, Missouri. In an effort to “gather and preserve…the enormous fund of perishing occurrence,” each volume contains an extensive description of the existing historical record of the era, often supplemented with information obtained from local citizens and public officials. Although their style, content, and the method in which they were sold suggests that they were written to appeal to the general public, the Goodspeed histories are now recognized as a valuable tool for local historical and genealogical research. The content within …