Five authors to join NC Literary Hall of Fame
SOUTHERN PINES—The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame will welcome five new inductees in an October ceremony at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines.
James W. Clark, Jr., Randall Kenan, Jill McCorkle, Penelope Niven, and Marsha White Warren will join the sixty inductees currently enshrined.
The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. Inductions are held every other year. A list of inductees, as well as samples of their work and video clips of past inductions, can be found online at www.nclhof.org.
Dr. James W. Clark Jr. is professor emeritus of English at North Carolina State University. A native of Vaughan in Warren County, Clark holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and focused his academic career on the cultural geography and literary history of North Carolina, his native state. He has been president of The Thomas Wolfe Society, The North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, and won the R. Hunt Parker Award for his contributions. In 2017, he completed a decade as president of The Paul Green Foundation, and is still president of The North Caroliniana Society.
Randall Kenan, a native of Duplin County, is the author of a novel, A Visitation of Spirits; two works of nonfiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century and The Fire This Time; and an award-winning collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead. He edited and wrote the introductions for The Cross of Redemption: The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin and The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Whiting Writers’ Award, the North Carolina Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize. He is professor of English and comparative literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Jill McCorkle has the distinction of having her first two novels published on the same day in 1984. Since then she has published four other novels and four collections of short stories. Five of her books have been named New York Times notable books, while three of her stories have appeared in “Best American Short Stories” anthologies. McCorkle has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. McCorkle has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Tufts and Brandeis where she was the Fannie Hurst Visiting Writer. She was a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard for five years where she also chaired creative writing. She teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at N.C. State University and is a core faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars. A native of Lumberton, she lives with her husband, photographer Tom Rankin, in Hillsborough.
Penelope Niven was the critically acclaimed author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography; Steichen: A Biography, and Thornton Wilder: A Life. She was also co-author, with the actor James Earl Jones, of Voices and Silences. Carl Sandburg: Adventures of a Poet, a biography for children, received a 2004 International Reading Association Prize “for exceptionally distinguished literature for children.” Her memoir Swimming Lessons was published in 2004. Niven received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor, for her work as a writer and a teacher. She founded and directed the national Carl Sandburg Oral History Project, and was three times a recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. She lectured across the United States and in Switzerland, Canada and Great Britain, and was principal consultant for the PBS film biography Carl Sandburg—Echoes and Silences. She also served as a consultant for television films on Sandburg, Jones, Steichen and Wilder. At the time of her death in 2014, she lived in Winston-Salem, where she spent 12 years as Writer-in-Residence at Salem College. A native of Waxhaw, she also held two honorary doctorates, among other honors and awards.
Marsha White Warren was an elementary school teacher, poet, and children’s book author when she became Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network in 1987, only two years after its founding. She would serve in that role until 1996. During those years she helped Sam Ragan develop and open the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, as well as serving on numerous state and national literary boards and as a consultant to literary centers in Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Idaho. In 1991, she also became director of the Paul Green Foundation and is still with the Foundation after twenty-seven years. In that position, she has overseen $575,000 in grants to nonprofits that support the arts and human rights. Her awards include the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for Lifetime Contributions to Literature, Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Andrews College. She lives in Chapel Hill.
The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, under the leadership of poet laureate Sam Ragan, and is a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Since 2008, the Network and the Weymouth Center collaborate with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill to produce the induction ceremony and to promote the NCLHOF and North Carolina’s literary heritage.