Mississippi flags literary giants
American literature wouldn’t be without Mississippi, which has produced some of the world’s most iconic authors -- William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams, to name a few.
To pay homage to these icons and other writers who have contributed to America’s literary greatness, Mississippi highlights landmarks throughout the state on a Writer’s Trail – an educational tour with stops at birthplaces, homes and gravesites where historical markers in the shape of an open book flag places and events in their lives.
Regarded as a literary giant, William Faulkner’s work helped him become one of the most famous authors to ever put words on paper. For his contributions to American literature, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1955. To commemorate the wildly successful career of William Faulkner and great novels like The Sound and the Fury, his Oxford, MS, estate Rowan Oak, is a public tour site. Faulkner spent most of his time creating his literary masterpieces there. Minutes from downtown Oxford, the house sits on 29 acres. Guests are welcome to tour the grounds, as well as the home. Inside, the walls on which Faulkner wrote help bring his works to life.
The famed Eudora Welty was known to be one of the best short story writers of the twentieth century, winning a Pulitzer Prize for her timeless classic The Optimist’s Daughter. Her home in Jackson’s historic Belhaven neighborhood is also a public tour site today. There she wrote most of her work, including essays on gardening. Welty lived in the home for nearly 80 years. In addition to touring the home, guests can visit her personal garden, which has been beautifully maintained.
Arguably one of the most iconic American playwrights to have lived is Tennessee Williams, who created numerous classics, including A Street Car Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won a Pulitzer Prize for both. To this day, his work continues to be featured on stages and screens, as well as studied in schools across the country. Born in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams was raised in a modest Victorian-style home. The home was in danger of being torn down in the early 1990s, as it was the rectory of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The church intended to demolish the home as part of its expansion plan, but it was deemed a historic landmark and is now a tour site. Open to the public, the playwright’s childhood home now serves as the welcome center for the City of Columbus.
That’s just the beginning. Throughout the state, assorted writers have contributed to America’s literary greatness. Others are:
Margaret Walker Alexander (Margaret Walker Center, Jackson State University – Jackson, MS)
Shelby Foote (E. E. Bass Cultural Arts Center – Greenville, MS)
Walker Percy (E. E. Bass Cultural Arts Center – Greenville, MS)
Elizabeth Spencer (Merrill Museum – Carrollton, MS)
Ida B. Wells (Rust College – Holly Springs, MS)
Richard Wright (George W. Armstrong Library – Natchez, MS)
Anne Moody (Louis Gaulden and Riquita Jackson Family Memorial Park – Centreville, MS)
Dorothy Shawhan (Wright Gallery of Kethley Hall, Delta State University – Cleveland, MS)
Richard Ford (Carnegie Public Library – Clarksdale, MS)
Willie Morris (Yazoo Triangle Cultural Center – Yazoo City, MS)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information provided by Visit Mississippi – the Tourism Division of the Mississippi Development Authority (501 N. West Street, Jackson, MS 39202), which offers assistance and advice to travelers looking to make Mississippi their vacation destination. Contact 601-359-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.