The essay, “Literature Since 1900” by Wilma Dykeman (1920-2006) in the land-breaking 1962 book The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey edited by Thomas R. Ford, quite literally ushered in the nascent field of Appalachian Literature. She followed that essay by teaching it at Loyal Jones’ three-week summer course in Appalachian Studies, which almost all of the leaders of the Appalachian Studies Conference attended. That was punctuated by hundreds of compelling presentations to widely diverse groups around our region. Of the many that I attended in a variety of locales, never once did she fail to artfully elaborate upon the evils of racism, class chauvinism, sexism, and environmental degradation. The Tennessee State Historian, she was known not only for her non-fiction books, but also as the author of an iconic novel, The Tall Woman and two follow-up novels. A native of Asheville, she resided throughout her adult life in Newport, Tennessee. Ron Rash called Family of Earth “a valuable addition to understanding Dykeman and . . . also a fascinating, deeply moving account of a writer’s developing sensibility.” “Wilma Dykeman is indeed a ‘tall woman’ who has cast her long shadow over many other Appalachian women writers, especially me, inspired early on by both her beautiful writing and her social conscience.” – Lee Smith.
Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016, 177 pages. Trade paperback