Thursday, March 11, 2010

The French Broad

We have added another book to our library, The French Broad, Wilma Dykeman (1955). See the Bibliography on the home page (to the left, scroll down). We have two copies, one signed by the author.

Publisher's Comments:

Miss Dykeman refers to the French Broad as the classic example of an Appalachian river -- a study in contrasts, both of scenery and way of life. Here is an independent mountain river, flowing north between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina and cutting through to East Tennessee. The people who live in its valleys have always been fighters -- for independence against the British, for land against the Cherokees, against each other in the Civil War, and occasionally against the revenuers. Unusual occupations -- herb gathers, hog "droving," and fine handcrafts -- have always set this valley apart and it has now become the seat of vast industries as well.

Miss Dykeman, who is a native of Asheville, North Carolina, and now resides in Newport, Tennessee, has interwoven delightful folk material with solid information to produce an entertaining and informative book on a valley of matchless beauty and interest. The French Broad won for the author the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy of 1955.

Dykeman, Wilma.
The French Broad. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, 1955. Illustrated by Douglas Gorsline.

Wilma Dykeman Stokely (1920-2006) grew up in the Beaverdam Community of Buncombe County, North Carolina, the only child of Willard Dykeman and Bonnie Cole Dykeman. Her father had relocated to the Asheville area from New York as a widower with two grown children, and had met and married her mother in Asheville. He was 60 years old when Wilma was born and died when Wilma was 14 years old. In later life, she credited both of her parents for giving her a love of reading and her father for giving her a love of nature and a curiosity about the world around her.

She attended Biltmore Junior College (now the University of North Carolina at Asheville), graduating in 1938, and Northwestern University, where she was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1940 with a major in speech. In August 1940, shortly after her graduation from Northwestern, she was introduced to her future husband, James R. Stokely, Jr., by Mabel Wolfe, the sister of Asheville writer Thomas Wolfe. Stokely, of Newport, Tennessee, was a son of the president of Stokely Canning Company (which in 1933 bought Van Camp to become Stokely-Van Camp Inc. The Stokely brand of canned food is now a brand of Seneca Foods and Van Camps a brand of Conagra Inc.)

The couple married just two months after they met. They had two sons, Dykeman Stokely and James R. "Rory" Stokely III. The couple maintained homes in Asheville and Newport, and Dykeman continued to divide her time in both homes after Stokely died in 1977. Dykeman and Stokely wrote several books together. After Dykeman died in 2006, Appalachian writer Jeff Daniel Marion called the couple's marriage a "partnership in every sense of the word," describing Dykeman and Stokely as "partners in writing, partners in marriage and partners in having similar points of view." Dykeman died December 22, 2006 after suffering complications from a fractured hip and subsequent hip replacement surgery. She is buried in the Beaverdam Baptist Church Cemetery in Asheville, near her childhood home.

Source: Wilma Dykeman Biography in Wikipedia

See Also:

Appalachian Voices
Books by Wilma Dykeman
Center for Global Environmental Education
Images of Wilma Dykeman

The Fellowship of Southern Writers
University of North Carolina at Asheville Resources


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