Mississippi author Shelby Foote, best known for his three volume history of the American Civil War, was born in Greenville, Mississippi in November of 1916. In this episode, we revisit his oral history interview, conducted by Dr. Orley B. Caudill on March 4, 1975, at his home in Memphis.
Foote discusses growing up in Greenville, how everyone attended the same school and what they did for fun during the Great Depression. He was just five years old when his father passed away, leaving him and his mother alone. He recalls how his mother always supported his decisions and never said hurtful things.
Anticipating America’s entrance into WWII, Foote left college after two years, returned to Mississippi and joined the National Guard. He remembers writing his first novel while waiting to be deployed, and selling short stories to the Saturday Evening Post. He also talks about his style of writing, which he describes as a slow, deliberate process.
Mississippi author, Willie Morris, was living in Austin when he was offered a job as Editor of Harper’s Magazine. In this episode, he recalls his decision to move to New York and the magazine’s reputation at that time. When Morris took over as editor in 1967, circulation and revenues were down. He discusses the challenges of overseeing an older staff and his strategy to turn things around. Morris assumed he would be able to continue his career as a writer, even while working as an editor. He explains why the demands on a New York editor’s time made it impossible for him to write.
Willie Morris looks back with pride on his time as the Editor of Harper’s. He reflects on the distinguished authors and journalists who contributed to the magazine’s successful return to its former glory and the role he played.
PHOTO: copyright David F. Morris.