By Dasha Morgan
Back of Beyond, a Horace Kephart Biography, by George Ellison and Janet McCue has received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association. An Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday night, November 16th from 4-6 at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel: $15 for the General Public, $10 for WNCHA Members. To purchase tickets call WNCHA at ( 828) 254-9231, Reservations are suggested, but tickets are also available at the door.
Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD, the Award is a partnership between WNCHA and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee. It has been presented by WNCHA since 1955. The award comes with a $2,500 cash prize.
This book is the result of decades of tireless research and is the story of a librarian-turned woodsman, who was instrumental in efforts to establish the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Kephart campaigned for the establishment of a national park in the Great Smoky Mountains with photographer and friend George Masa. He wrote a number of articles and books and is best known as the author of Our Southern Highlanders about his life in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and the classic outdoors guide Camping and Woodcraft. Mount Kephart was named in his honor. Ken Burns’ multi-part documentary, the National Parks: America’s Best Idea, features Horace Kephart in the fourth episode (1920-1933).
Other finalists this year include:
Robert Beatty, “Willa of the Wood,” a Serafina series thriller about an orphan in the Great Smoky Mountains set in 1900.
David Joy, “The Line That Held Us,” a novel about a Blue Ridge Mountains murder cover-up.
Meredith McCarroll, “Unwhite: Appalachia, Race and Film,” an examination of the region and depiction of residents in movies.
Terry Roberts, “The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival,” a novel about a traveling preacher in the mountains during Prohibition.
The Association presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for The French Broad. Other recipients of this prestigious Award include Robert Morgan, John Paris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wayne Caldwell and Terry Roberts. Charles Frazier was the recipient of the 2018 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for his book: Varina.
To be considered, an entry must be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama or poetry and meet the following criteria:
It must be a first edition work; revised editions of published works will not be considered for the Award.
The publication date must be published no later than 1 July of the current year or in the previous calendar year.
The author must be a native of western North Carolina or a resident of western North Carolina for at least twelve months prior to the closing date for the Award.
An author may also qualify if the work submitted has a focus on or setting in Western North Carolina.