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Tennessee Authors (Special Collections): Me-Mu

This research guide highlights primary sources and research materials about prominent authors in Tennessee.

Jane Merchant

Jane Hess Merchant (1919-1972) was born in 1919 in Inskip (now Knoxville), Tennessee. She was confined to her bed at age twelve from the congenital bone disease Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease, which also caused her to go deaf at age twenty-three. Despite her crippling disease, Merchant was an incredibly active and prolific writer. From her bedroom she was able to write more than 3,000 poems, 2,000 letters, and dozens of prose pieces. Although writing for several years, her first published work, a poem printed in an issue of Progessive Farmer did not appear until 1946. Soon after this first publication, though, other magazines were quick to print her work, including Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post. She also maintained continual correspondence with friends and fans as well as publishers throughout her life.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • Think About These Things. 1956 (BV260 .M38)
  • Halfway Up the Sky. 1957 (PS3525.E54 H3)
  • Blessed Are You. 1961 (BT382 .M39)
  • The Mercies of God; Meditations on Romans 12. 1963 (BS2665.4 .M4)
  • Petals of Light : [Poems]. 1965 (PS3525.E54 P4 1965)

Nell Thompson Miller

Poet Nell Thompson Miller (1903-1995) born in Jellico, Tennessee on March 15, 1903. Her first published collection, Live Coals, appeared in 1939. She followed up with many more publications including Remembered Loves (1943), Let There Be Peace (1945), and A Dusty Road (1972), her largest collection. Her poems were also regularly broadcast on Cincinnati radio station WLW's program "Moon River."

While living in East Tennessee, Miller operated The Book Nook in Gatlinburg and contributed a daily poetry column, "Golden Moments," to the Knoxville Journal. Her work appeared in a number of other periodicals and she received several awards and honors for her writing. Miller later moved to Florida where she taught poetry classes and continued writing.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • Live Coals. 1939 (PS3525.I5565 L5)
  • Let There Be Peace. 1943 (PS3525.I5565 L4)
  • Remembered Loves: A Second Book of Verse. 1943 (PS3525.I5565 R4)
  • Private Willie Lear. 1944 (PS3525.I5565 P7)
  • This, Too, Has Been My Dream. 1946 (PS3525.I5565 T35 1946)


Stephen Mooney

Stephen LeRoy Mooney (1915-1971) was born on January 9, 1915. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and the University of Tennessee. He taught at the University of Alabama, the University of Tennessee, the University of Southern Alabama, and the University of Tennessee at Martin. Mooney was also a founder and editor of the Tennessee Poetry Journal, a regional publication designed to encourage fledgling poets and recognize established ones. He authored Shakespeare's Father and Three Poems. His work was also published in many periodicals including the New Yorker, Sewanee Review, and New Republic.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • Poe's Grand Design: A Study of Theme and Unity in the Tales. 1960 (Thesis60b.M665)
  • News from the South; Poems. 1966 (PS3525.O5324 N4)
  • The Grave of the Dwarf, Irish Sketches, 1949-1950. 1968 (PS3525.O5324 G8 1968)
  • Selves: Poems of 1968. 1968 (PS3525.O5324 S4)

Mary Noailles Murfree

black and white photographic print of Writer Mary Noailles Murfree
"Charles Egbert Craddock," or Mary Noailles Murfree

Mary Noailles Murfree (1850-1922) was a fiction and short story writer born to William Law Murfree and Pricilla Dickinson in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 24, 1850. Mary was partially paralyzed by a fever when she was four. She grew up in Murfreesboro and Nashville but, after the Civil War, the family moved to St. Louis before eventually returning to Murfreesboro in 1890.

Mary began writing in her twenties and her first published piece was “Flirts and their Ways” for Lippincott's Magazine. She published the article under the pen name R. Emmet Dembry. She later adopted Charles Egbert Craddock as her permanent pseudonym in 1878. The majority of her literary work focused on the life and mountain culture of the Cumberland Mountains in Middle Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Her first novel, Where the Battle Was Fought, was published in 1884, and later novels included In the Clouds (1886), His Vanished Star (1894), and The Young Mountaineers (1897). The revelation of Craddock's true identity as Murfree in 1885 only furthered interest in her writing. Murfree is considered one of Appalachia's first prominent female writers.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • The Despot of Broomsedge Cove. 1889 (PS2454 .D48 1889)
  • In the Clouds. 1894 (PS2454 .I5 1894)  
  • A Spectre of Power. 1903 (PS2454 .S64 1903b)
  • The Story of Old Fort Loudon. 1910 (PS2454 .S85 1910)
  • The Ordeal; A Mountain Romance of Tennessee. 1912 (PS2454 .O7 1912)

Special Collections and University Archives

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Special Collections
121 Hodges Library
1015 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996

Go to Special Collections for more information.