A Century of West Virginia Authors:
West Virginia Library Association 1999

Copyright Phyllis Wilson Moore, March 1999


The West Virginia Library Association selected seventy-one authors for inclusion on a 1999 WVLA afghan.  The afghan features an outline of the state, the names of the authors and the title "A Century of West Virginia Authors."

The Association sponsored two presentations related to the selected authors at their Spring Conference and the Bridgeport Library prepared a handout for distribution at the conference.  Permission to copy and distribute this informational text with the afghan is granted to West Virginia Libraries by the author and the Bridgeport Library.  Please credit the source.

Key: authors by name and/or pseudonym; location in West Virginia commonly associated with the author; title of at least one work; major genre indicated; selected awards identified.

Adams, Gail Galloway, long-time resident of Morgantown. 1988 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for her collection The Purchase of Order. Fiction, essays and poetry.

Alderson, Althea Todd, born in Malden. The Far Call.  Her best known poem, "The Spirit of Saint Louis," was published in a Doubleday and Doran anthology (1930s). Short stories and poetry.

Ambler, Charles Henry, born in Ohio, spent much of his life in Morgantown as professor of history at WVU. Ambler has many history titles to his credit. West Virginia Stories and Biographies (1937) includes eleven pages devoted to the state's literature.

Anderson, Lorena, educator from Charleston. Co-editor of the Handbook of Appalachian Materials with Perry Phillips and William Plumley. Anderson's wrote instructional columns, scripts and articles for teachers and parents.  She was the State Supervisor of Language Arts for the West Virginia Department of Education in the 70s. Nonfiction and fiction.

Maggie Anderson

Anderson, Maggie, born in New York City, returned to West Virginia when she was a teen. A graduate of West Virginia University, Anderson teaches creative writing at Kent State University. She edited Hill Daughter for (then) poet laureate Louise McNeill and is the author of four books of poetry.   A Space Filled with Moving is her most recent.

Appel, Allen, Parkersburg. Writes time-travel novels as well as family oriented nonfiction: Time after Time; From Father to Son: Wisdom for the Next Generation.

Benedict, Pinckney, Lewisburg. Benedict teaches in Virginia and is the author of Town Smokes (short story collection); Dogs of God (novel) In 1995 he won the newly established John Steinbeck Award.  He also writes essays and book reviews.

Irene Brand

Brand, Irene, Southside. Where Morning Dawns and many other titles. Winner of numerous awards including West Virginia Writers, Inc.'s 1997 J.U.G. Award for Just Uncommonly Good writing. Novels, biography, history, magazine articles, inspirational and religious materials.

Brooks, Maurice Graham, French Creek. Brooks wrote ecological articles for The New York Times, The Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Wild Wonderful West Virginia.  He was a graduate of WVU and taught forestry there for many years. Brooks held honorary Doctor of Science degrees from five Appalachian universities.  His most highly regarded text is The Appalachians. Nonfiction.

Brown, Drollene, St. Albans. Belva Lockwood Wins Her Case.  Children's literature and scholarly articles.

Buck, Pearl, Hillsboro. Buck won the Pulitzer for The Good Earth and the Nobel Prize in Literature for her body of work; specifically cited were The Good Earth; The Exile; Fighting Angel.  The later two show her family's West Virginia roots. Buck wrote in many genres and sometimes used the pseudonym John Sedges.

Byars, Betsy, ten year resident of Morgantown. Byars wrote her first Newbery Medal winner Summer of the Swan, while living there and the Newbery Award video was filmed at her Morgantown home.  Goodbye, Chicken Little and After the Goat Man and The Midnight Fox have West Virginia settings.  Examples of awards: International Reading Association, Children's Choice, 1993; National Book Award, 1981; National Book Award Finalist, 1973; Newbery Medal,1971.

Clarkson, Roy, Cass. Tumult on the Mountain: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770-1920.  Clarkson earned a Ph.D. in Botany from WVU and was Assistant Professor of Biology there when this book was published.  Historian.

Coberly, Lenore McComas, Hamlin. Coberly taught in Madison, Wisconsin.  She was Senior Editor of Heartland Journal and the author of Writers Have No Age: Creative Writing with Older Adults and a book of poetry Belonging.

Cohen, Stan, Charleston. Cohen, a geologist and former historical museum director, lives in Montana.  The Civil War in West Virginia is one of approximately 40 military books he authored or co-authored.  Since 1976 his Pictorial Histories Publishing Company Inc. has published approximately120 titles.

Stephen Coonts

Coonts, Stephen, Buckhannon.  Coonts, raised in Buckhannon, lives in Maryland.  His first novel Flight of the Intruder, a classic aviation story, quickly became a major motion picture.  A WVU graduate, his first seven novels made the New York Times best-seller list.  He also writes nonfiction; The Cannibal Queen recounts his flight across America in a vintage biplane.

Cometti, Elizabeth, Morgantown. Swiss Immigration to West Virginia 1864-1884: A Case Study. Co-editor of The Thirty-Fifth State: A Documentary History of West Virginia. Historian.

Comstock, Jim, Richwood. Comstock promoted the state and its authors through his newspaper West Virginia Hillbilly. He is perhaps best remembered for his 51volume West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia.  Fiction and nonfiction.

Corbin, David, southern West Virginia. Life Work and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880-1922.  Corbin was a consultant for the PBS documentary "Even the Heavens Weep." Historian and editor.

Currey, Richard, Parkersburg. Fatal Light (novel); Crossing Over (poetry); Wars of Heaven (short story collection).  The title story from Wars of Heaven is included in the1998 O. Henry Award Prize Story Collection.  A Physician's Assistant, Currey also writes essays related to medical ethics and medical care.

Davis, Julia, Charles Town and Clarksburg.  The state's first and second Newbery Honor winner for Vanio: A Boy of New Finland and Mountains are Free. Children's literature, essays, plays, biographies, novels, poetry and nonfiction. She also published using her married name, Julia Adams, and for mysteries the pseudonym F. Draco.

John Douglas

Dayton, Ruth Wood, Philippi and Lewisburg. Lewisburg Landmarks.  Dayton established the Lewisburg Daywood Art Gallery, part of the Huntington Galleries and was a noted historian.

Douglas, John, Berkeley Springs. Haunts; Shawnee Alley Fire; Blind Spring Rambler. Douglas writes of the familiar: the unrest of pre-union coal towns, November floods and the lives of people in the mountains.  His ability to write a solid mystery novels may be related to his career as editor of The Morgan Messenger.

Davis Grubb

Grubb, Davis, Moundsville and Clarksburg.  His novels Night of the Hunter and Fools' Parade are major films.  Some of his short stories have been adapted for television. Night of the Hunter earned him a finalist slot for the 1955 National Book Award.

Giardina, Denise, Black Wolf. Giardina holds major Appalachian awards for two novels depicting life in the coal fields: The Unquiet Earth; Storming Heaven.  She is the author of two other historical novels: Good King Harry, set in England; Saints and Villains, set in Germany and various parts of the United States, including West Virginia.

Harmon, Roy Lee, Boone County. Roses in December.  Harmon served as Poet Laureate for four Governors and was a long-term member of the state's legislature. During the1950s he was an editor in Beckley, and a TV host in Oak Hill.

Harvey, Vera Andrew, Huntington. Touching the Stars (poetry). Harvey, the state's first woman Poet Laureate, was also a playwright.  Her play, "Tourists---Rooms and Bath" won the West Virginia Review prize and was published in the July 1930 Review.  Harvey taught in the English department at Marshall from 1916-1922.

Harshman, Cheryl Ryan, born in Ohio, is a long-time resident of Moundsville.  Sally Arnold is her first children's book and is published under the name Cheryl Ryan.  She is a librarian and a noted West Virginia storyteller.

Harshman, Marc, born in Indiana. Marc is a resident of Moundsville, a storyteller, poet, elementary teacher and a prolific writer of children's literature. Uncle James and Rocks in My Pockets, co-authored with Bonnie Collins, are two titles from his long and growing list of books.

William Hoffman

Haydon, June, Spring Hill. Trail of Love.  Haydon writes historical romance novels using the pen names Rosalind Fox and Taria Hayford.  She also writes mystery stories.

Hoffman,William, Charleston. Hoffman teaches in Virginia.  His 1990 novel, Furor's Die, is set in Charleston and his most recent novel, Tidewater Blood, is set in Virginia.  His short story "Stones" is included in the 1996 O. Henry Award Prize Story Collection.

Hunter, Kermit, McDowell County.  Unto These Hills; The Lost Colony; Honey in the Rock, a Drama of West Virginia are three plays written by this popular playwright.

Christopher G. Janus

Janus, Christopher G., Montgomery. Janus currently lives in the Chicago area.  His young adult novel Miss 4th of July, Goodbye, based on his family's experiences in Montgomery during the Great Depression, is a popular Disney film portraying the struggles of Greek immigrants and African-Americans in that community. Novels, short stories, biography.

Jones, Kathy, Charleston.  Jones writes historical romance novels. Rebel's Mistress, set in the Charleston/Malden area, is a Civil War story with a Union spy heroine; the beautiful Carolina Blackwell sells much-needed Kanawha salt to the Confederacy so as to learn of military plans.



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