Lawrence Edwards (1907- ) was born in a mining camp on the Tennessee-Kentucky border in 1907. His family moved to Speedwell, Tennessee (the subject of several of his later works) when he was five years old. He was educated at Lincoln Memorial University and at the University of Tennessee, and he later taught at the University of Tennessee.
Edwards' stories primarily deal with growing up in his native Speedwell and with rural life in general. His research studies concern the letters of Jacob Tonson, the allegory of Thomas Usk's Testament of Love, the religion of Browning, the history of the Baptists of Tennessee (with particular attention to the Primitive Baptists of East Tennessee), religion and education in antebellum Tennessee, and use of the library.
|Caroline Gordon with husband Allen Tate|
Writer Caroline Ferguson Gordon (1895-1981) was born in Todd, Kentucky in 1895 and grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee. She attended her father’s Classical School for Boys and graduated from Bethany College in 1916. After graduation, Gordon wrote for the Chattanooga Reporter for eight years. She then returned home where she met and later married the poet Allen Tate. Together, they spent much of their time in the company of other notable authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Ford Madox Ford (whom Gordon viewed as a mentor) and more.
She published her first novel, Penhally, in 1931. During her early years of writing, she won two prestigious writing awards, the Guggenheim in 1932 and the O. Henry Award in 1934. Gordon went on to publish several novels and collections of short stories such as Aleck Maury, Sportsman (1934) and The Women on the Porch (1944). She remained an active writer until a stroke in 1981 from which she died six weeks later.
The poet Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni (1943- ) was born on June 7, 1943, to Yolande Cornelia, Sr. and Jones "Gus" Giovanni in Knoxville, Tennessee. She grew up in the all-black Cincinnati suburb Lincoln Heights and spent summers back in Knoxville visiting grandparents. She attended her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she graduated with honors. Giovanni has authored numerous poetry collections, largely focusing on racial and social issues, as well as pieces of children's literature.
Giovanni has taught at many institutions including the Queens College of the City University of New York, Livingston College, and Ohio State University. Her work has garnered several awards including the Black Women’s Honor Society Award, the Tennessee Writer’s Award, the Langston Hughes Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, seven NAACP Image Awards, and more than twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the nation. She currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, and teaches writing and literature as a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley (1921-1992) was born in Ithaca, New York in 1921 but spent several years of his youth in Henning, Tennessee. Haley graduated from high school at the age of 15 and attended college from 1937 to 1939 before joining the U. S. Coast Guard. He eventually rose to the rank of Chief Journalist, a position specifically created for him. After retiring from the Coast Guard in 1959 and publishing several articles in newspapers and magazines, Haley published The Autobiography of Malcolm X to great success in 1964.
However, his greatest achievement came with his 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, a story based on his ancestors' experience journeying from Africa to America as slaves and their path from slavery to freedom. For this work, Haley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977. He briefly taught at the University of Tennessee and lived his last days on a farm in Clinton, Tennessee. Haley is buried at his boyhood home in Henning, which is now the Alex Haley State Historic Site.
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Stanley Fitzgerald Horn (1889-1980) was born on May 27, 1889, in Neely’s Bend, an area just northeast of Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from Fogg High School when he was 17 and, after briefly working at a telephone company, began working for the trade publication Southern Lumberman. He eventually worked his way up to editor and owner of the magazine.
In addition to his career as a journalist, Horn was an avid historian wrote a number of nonfiction works, many of which were about the Civil War. These titles include The Boy’s Life of Robert E. Lee, Gallant Rebel, and The Decisive Battle of Nashville. Horn was also a member of the Tennessee Historical Society, chairman and president of the Tennessee Historical Commission, and State Historian of Tennessee.