Sharyn McCrumb, an award-winning Southern writer best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in Hall Campus Center’s Memorial Ballroom.
The event, the latest in the University of Lynchburg’s Thornton Reading series, is sponsored by the Richard H. Thornton Endowment in English. Admission is free and the public is invited. The reading also will be livestreamed.
During her visit, McCrumb also will spend time with Advanced Creative Writing students.
McCrumb’s work includes The New York Times bestsellers “The Ballad of Tom Dooley,” “The Ballad of Frankie Silver,” and “Ghost Riders,” which also won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Book.
Among numerous honors, McCrumb was named a “Virginia Woman of History” by the Library of Virginia and a “Woman of the Arts” by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“Her work is beautifully and thoughtfully researched, her characters are compelling, and her stories are sad, funny, and often gripping,” said Dr. Robin Bates, an English professor who nominated McCrumb for the Thornton Reading.
“More than that, they present a side of Appalachia that I think is often not told, one that goes far beyond the hillbilly stereotype. She shows the nuanced, beautiful, and sometimes painful parts of life in the mountains without resorting to clichés.”
Bates discovered McCrumb’s novels in the 1990s and is using “The Ballad of Frankie Silver” in her Literature and the Body class this semester. The book is based on a real murder trial from North Carolina in the 1830s.
“Having a writer here who has had a long and prolific career and who could relate well to students, but would also be known to the community, is a great opportunity for us to enjoy a reading that celebrates the Appalachian region and writing that is exceptional and entertaining,” Bates said.
Dr. Nina Salmon ’93 MEd, associate professor of English and director of Lynchburg’s Senior Symposium, is using three McCrumb novels in her College Writing class. The first-year students, in groups of two or three, are reading and discussing the novels “book club” style.
“My goal is to get my students really into McCrumb’s novels,” Salmon said. “I hope they’ll be talking about them, in and out of class, so they really start to look forward to her visit.”
Salmon has also encouraged her students to use subject matter from the novels — environmental ethics and responsibility, the economic impact of the chestnut blight, cultural politics, and more — for future research projects.
“How cool is it to be able to hear from and possibly meet an author whose work you are reading in one of your classes?” Salmon said. “Maybe they can even tell her about their research projects or ask her some questions.
“I hope reading a novel by an author and working through it with peers, choosing a research topic based on something sparked by the novel, and then attending a reading and being able to ask questions of the author will provide a rich and memorable Lynchburg experience.”
For more information about the Thornton Reading series, contact Jer Bryant ’03, ’10 MA, Richard H. Thornton chair and assistant professor of English, at email@example.com.