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NC Literary Hall of Fame to induct five

SOUTHERN PINES — Five writers — a beloved poet, novelist, scholar and literary citizen; the author of a literary blockbuster; an award-winning chronicler of the coast, who is also an internationally-renowned musician; a short-story writer who led UNC’s creative writing program to national prominence; and one of the most prolific and honored children’s writers in America — will enter the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame this fall.

Anthony S. Abbott, Charles Frazier, Bland Simpson, the late Max Steele and Carole Boston Weatherford will join the 65 inductees already enshrined in an October ceremony at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, where the NCLHOF is housed.

The 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.

The winner of the 2015 North Carolina Award for Literature, Abbott is the author of seven books of poetry, two novels, and four books of literary criticism. He joined the English department of Davidson College in 1964, becoming Charles A. Dana Professor of English in 1990. His other prizes include the Brockman-Campbell Book Award and the Novello Literary Award. Abbott also has served as president of the Charlotte Writers Club, the NC Poetry Society, and the NC Writers’ Network.

Frazier grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. “Cold Mountain” (1997), his highly-acclaimed first novel, was an international bestseller, won the National Book Award in 1997, and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Anthony Minghella in 2003. His next three novels — “Thirteen Moons,” “Nightwoods” and “Varina” — all were New York Times bestsellers, as well.

Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has played piano with the Red Clay Ramblers since 1986.  His books include ”The Great Dismal,” “The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey, ” “Into the Sound Country,” “Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals, ” “The Coasts of Carolina,”  “Two Captains from Carolina” and ”Little Rivers & Waterway Tales,” and his theatrical collaborations include ”Diamond Studs,”  ”Hot Grog,” “Life on the Mississippi,”  ”King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running,” “Cool Spring,” “Tar Heel Voices,” “Kudzu” and  “Fool Moon.”

Simpson’s awards include the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts (2005) and the NC Humanities Council’s John Tyler Caldwell Award in the Humanities (2017).

After World War II service in the Army Air Corps, Steele graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1946, later studying French language and literature at the Sorbonne while serving as advisory editor to The Paris Review. His only novel, “Debby,” won both the Harper Prize and the Mayflower Award in 1950, but he was best-known for his short stories, collected in four volumes. He began teaching at UNC in 1956, and retired in 1988, 17 years before his death.

Baltimore-born and -raised, Weatherford composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with  “Juneteenth Jamboree”  in 1995, Weatherford’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and many other honors.

Weatherford has received the Ragan-Rubin Award from the North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She is a professor at Fayetteville State University.

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.

For more information, visit the NC Literary Hall of Fame at www.nclhof.org or the North Carolina Writers’ Network at www.ncwriters.org.

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