Archived Event: Family of Earth: A Celebration
After Wilma Dykeman‘s death in 2006, an unpublished manuscript was discovered in her papers. On Sunday, September 11, at 3 p.m., we will celebrate the publication of that manuscript, Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood, when her sons, Jim and Dykeman Stokely, visit Knoxville to discuss the book at the East Tennessee History Center.
Copies of Family of Earth will be available for purchase.
Wilma Dykeman (1920–2006), one of the American South’s most prolific and storied writers, wrote this memoir while living in a stone cottage in the English Mountains of Cocke County, just east of Knoxville, during the final months of World War II. She had narrated a radio series in Knoxville in which she tried to explain the progress of the war to listeners. With the memoir, which she subtitled “What We Are Fighting For,” she tried to explain the purpose — the true quality of life — for which Americans were sacrificing so much.
Featuring a foreword by fellow North Carolinian Robert Morgan, Family of Earth stands as a new major literary work by a groundbreaking author.
Frank Stasio of WUNC spoke about Dykeman’s life and legacy with her son, Jim Stokely, and her longtime friend Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink, on August 23.
Dannye Romine Powell recently wrote about Family of Earth in her Reading Matters blog in The Charlotte Observer.
WUOT’s Matt Shafer Powell talked with Jim and Dykeman Stokely about their mother and Family of Earth in an interview that aired on September 9.
Friends of the Knox County Public Library established the Wilma Dykeman Stokely Memorial Lecture in 2007 to honor the late writer, speaker, teacher, historian, environmentalist, and long-time friend of the Knox County Public Library. Recent lecturers have included Robert Morgan, Dom Flemons, and Ron Rash. Her papers are part of the UT Knoxville Library’s Special Collections.
Readers who loved one or more of Wilma Dykeman’s 18 books turned out in force on September 11 to hear her sons Jim and Dykeman Stokely talk about her 19th, Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood. They spoke to a full house at the East Tennessee History Center about the discovery of the typewritten manuscript after their mother’s death and the ways it illuminates themes of her work like the human cost of alienation from nature, family, and community.
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