Emma Bell Miles (1879-1919) is one of the most revered and endearing figures in Appalachian Literature. As a young girl she moved with her parents to Signal Mountain, above Chattanooga, Tennessee, and lived there the rest of her short life. Her tragedies, travails and triumphs are recorded in this book in a compelling way. Emma Bell Miles was married to a mountain man, Frank Miles, who tended to get pissed off at the rich people who hired him and thus seldom supported his growing family well. His wife, Emma Bell Miles, created beautiful art, exquisite poems and compelling stories, but the people who occasionally purchased her work could be as difficult as those who hired Frank. In 1905 she wrote the first book that illuminated the distinct culture of the people of the Southern Mountains. The Spirit of the Mountains is still in print as are a recently published collection of her stories edited by Grace Edwards and a compilation of her journals edited by Steven Cox. I would argue that this biography is the place for anyone interested in this fascinating individual to start. The drawings, poems, photographs, essays and journal entries are carefully chosen to give the reader an enthralling feel for the life and work of Emma Bell Miles. This copy, signed by the author, Kay Baker Gaston, makes an exquisite gift and meaningful keepsake.
Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Signal Mountain Historical Society, 1985. 249 pages with a bibliography and photos. Trade paperback.