The Shepherd College Department of English is proud to welcome
Sharyn McCrumb
Recipient of the 1999 Apalachian Heritage Writer's Award
(Click on any of McCrumb's Ballad Novels to read more about it--and even purchase it on line)

The Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project was developed by the Department of English and Modern Lnguages and is made possible with the financial support of the West Virginia Humanities Council. The literary residency was created in 1998 to bring an Appalachian writer of stature to the campus and community each fall in conjunction with the Appalachian
Heritage Festival. The residency lasts from one to two weeks, during which time the "writer-in-residence" will interact with the community and campus in order to foster an appreciation both for the work of a significant literary artist and the region of Appalachia, with its distinctive cultural heritage and traditions." High point of the residency is the awarding of the Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award.

Sharyn McCrumb will be in Shepherdstown September 27-October 1, receiving the 1999 "Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award" and honored as the first Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd College. The Writer-in-Residence Project was developed by the Department of English and Modern Languages and sponsored by a West Virginia Humanities Grant, written by Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Department of English and Modern Languages Chair; Dr. Jim Watson, Vice-President for College Advancement; and Rachael Meads, Campus PASS Director. The literary residency was designed to bring an Appalachian writer of stature to the campus and community each fall and to occur in conjunction with the Appalachian Heritage Festival, developed by Dr. Linda Tate and Rachael Meads.

Sharyn McCrumb was selected to "kick off" the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project because of the high quality of her work and its immense popularity among the public. Winner of the prestigious Edgar, two Anthony Awards, two Macavity Awards, three Agatha Awards, and the Nero, McCrumb has been able to cross over from the "popular culture" circuit to the "academic." Her 1985 novel Lovely in Her Bones was named Best Appalachian Novel for that year, and her "Ballad Books" have received high critical acclaim: If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, She Walks These Hills, The Rosewood Casket, and The Ballad of Frankie Silver.

Meticulously researched and weaving mystery and folk legend into tales with contemporary significance, McCrumb traces in her books the link between Appalachia and Scotland, a link that has produced abiding traditions and a distinct cultural heritage. "My books are like Appalachian quilts," writes McCrumb. "I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life, and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South."

The New York Times has called McCrumb's work "elegiac," saying: "McCrumb writes with quiet fire and maybe a little mountain magic. . . . Like every good storyteller, she has the `Sight.'" As McCrumb "kicks off" the new Appalachian Writer-in-Residence project, she will bring to the campus and community both literary prestige and the expertise of a master story-teller, enriching both community and campus life this fall with her discussions and workshops.

Highlights from the residency include (click here for a complete schedule)

Shayrn McCrumb's great grandfathers were circuit preachers in North Carolina, riding horseback over the hills to preach to mountain folk; from them she inherited her gift for story-telling and public speaking. She will be an important part of the fall mountain heritage celebrations that annually come to campus.

For more information call the Department of English and Modern Languages (304.876.5207), the Shepherd College PASS office (304.876.5113). You may also visit any of the following pages:

Sharyn McCrumb's Home Page
The Appalachian Heritage Festival Home Page
The Shepherd College English Home Page
The West Virginia Humanities Council Home Page