Arts & Humanities Campus News Society & Culture

Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Class of 2016 announced

Athens, Ga. – Five new members, including the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize, have been elected to the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia Libraries.

For the second year, the UGA Libraries are encouraging Georgians to read at least one book by each inductee before the Nov. 7 ceremony.

“Book clubs and individuals responded so favorably to last year’s suggested reading initiative that we are again making recommendations to introduce this year’s inductees to a wider audience,” said P. Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost.

The Class of 2016 and their book selections are:
Bill Shipp, “Murder at Broad River Bridge.”
James Alan McPherson, “Elbow Room.”
Roy Blount Jr., “Now, Where Were We?”
Brainard Cheney, “Lightwood.”
Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, “The Making of a Southerner.”

Roy Blount Jr. is a humorist, journalist, sportswriter, poet, novelist, performer, editor, lyricist, lecturer, screenwriter, dramatist and philologist.

In his second book, “Crackers,” published by the UGA Press, Blount delves into the presidency of fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter and offers political commentary. The book was a critical success, garnering praise from Northern and Southern critics alike. In the past 25 years he has also written poetry and screenplays; published 13 books; contributed to some 100 periodicals; performed on television, stage and radio; and played with an authors’ rock band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, along with Dave Barry and Stephen King.

Brainard Cheney was a 20th-century novelist, political speechwriter and essayist from the wiregrass region of South Georgia. During a writing career that spanned four decades (1939-69), Cheney published four novels that depict the social transformation of South Georgia between 1870 and 1960. Cheney attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, sporadically between 1920 and 1925, becoming friends with many of the Fugitive and Agrarian writers associated with the Vanderbilt English department in the 1920s and 1930s.

Cheney’s published novels reveal his sympathy with the Agrarian themes of individualism, tradition, anti-industrialism and harmony with nature. Yet as a political pragmatist, Cheney supported New Deal programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority. His novels reflect a more forward-looking attitude toward racial integration and social change.

Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin was a sociologist, activist, teacher and writer who spent a lifetime studying and combating economic and racial oppression. As a member of a prominent Georgia family and the daughter of a veteran, the Macon native was inculcated in the cultural mythologies of the Lost Cause and white supremacy. She is best known for her autobiographical novel, “The Making of a Southerner” (1947), published by the UGA Press, which describes her transition from passive inheritance of white supremacy to conscious rejection of the racial values of a segregated South.

Lumpkin also published “The Family: A Study of Member Roles” (1933), “Shutdowns in the Connecticut Valley: A Study of Worker Displacement in the Small Industrial Community” (1934), “Child Workers in America” (with Dorothy W. Douglas, 1937) and “The South in Progress” (1940).

Short-story writer and critic James Alan McPherson won the 1965 Atlantic Monthly Firsts award for his early short story “Gold Coast.” In 1978 he was the first African-American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his 1977 story collection, “Elbow Room.” Frequently anthologized, the Savannah native has received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1972-73), the MacArthur Fellowship (1981), several Pushcart Prizes and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995).

McPherson sees African-American culture as integrally connected with the “white” culture. He doesn’t consider himself a “black writer” but rather thinks of himself in relation to other practitioners of the American tradition of short fiction. He rejects the notion that black or white fiction must necessarily concern certain black or white topics. Indeed, his concern is to record stories that might be lost because of such conformity.

In his 50-plus years in journalism, Bill Shipp has become one of the country’s premier political commentators, whose pronouncements and predictions are heeded by policymakers and activists at all levels of government.

In 1953, he wrote sharply critical editorials and columns in The Red and Black protesting the decision by Georgia Gov. Herman Talmadge and the board of regents to bar Horace T. Ward’s enrollment at UGA.

Shipp spent three decades writing and editing at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covered political campaigns, the civil rights movement and the early days of the space program. He broke the story that Jimmy Carter planned to run for president.

Shipp has two books to his credit, including “Murder at Broad River Bridge: The Slaying of Lemuel Penn by Members of the Ku Klux Klan” (1981), a nonfiction account of the 1964 murder of Lemuel Penn, a black lieutenant colonel in the army reserves who, on his way home to Washington, D.C., was shot to death near the Oglethorpe-Madison county line by Athens members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Shipp’s papers are held at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at UGA.

The Georgia Writers Hall of Fame induction ceremony is a part of the UGA Spotlight on the Arts, which fosters awareness and appreciation of the arts and an environment conducive to artistic innovation.