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 2024 Featured Speaker

Sharyn McCrumb

Beloved Appalachian author Sharyn McCrumb will be the luncheon speaker for the 2024 Dahlonega Literary Festival on March 2, as well as the Featured Speaker for an afternoon session. Lunch tickets are $23. (No charge for the Featured Speaker session.)


Her topic for the luncheon is "Grassroots Saints and Honkytonk Heroes,” and the afternoon session is titled “Using History and Folklore in Southern Fiction.”

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“In an earlier life, McCrumb must have been a balladeer, singing of restless spirits, star-crossed lovers, and the consoling beauty of nature. Here that older folk material acts as a refrain to the more realistic narrative... The overall effect is spellbinding.” ~ The Washington Post

Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, including the New York Times Best Sellers She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket, which deal with the issue of the vanishing wilderness; The Ballad of Frankie Silver and The Ballad of Tom Dooley, exploring the true stories behind two Appalachian murder ballads; and The Songcatcher, a genealogy in music, tracing the author‘s family from 18th century Scotland to the present by following a Scots Ballad through the generations. Ghost Riders, an account of the Civil War in the mountains of western North Carolina, won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Novel. Her books have been named New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable Books.

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The Unquiet Grave, the story of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost, was selected by the Georgia Library System as the 2017 selection for North Georgia Reads; the All Conference Read for the West Virginia State Library Conference; the West Virginia Featured Book at the West Virginia Book Festival; and a featured alternate by the Literary Guild.

The Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville NC staged theatrical versions of Ghost Riders and The Ballad of Frankie Silver in 2014 and 2016. In the fall of 2021, Requiem for Frankie Silver, an oratorio composed by Craig Carnahan and Craig Fields, based on the requiem mass and on The Ballad of Frankie Silver, premiered in Minneapolis.

“My books are like Appalachian quilts. 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.” ~ Sharyn McCrumb

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In 2014, Sharyn McCrumb was awarded the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature by North Carolina’s Chowan University. Named a “Virginia Woman of History” in 2008 for Achievement in Literature, she was a guest author at the National Festival of the Book in Washington, D.C., in 2006. In April 2017, the national DAR named her a “Woman in the Arts” for literary achievement. In November 2017, the West Virginia Library Association presented Sharyn McCrumb with their Award of Merit for Contributions to Appalachian Literature.

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King’s Mountain (2013, St. Martin’s Press), the story of the 1780 Revolutionary War battle and the Overmountain Men, received a DAR Award from the Edward Buncombe Chapter (NC), and in June 2015 the Patricia Winn Award for Southern Fiction from the Montgomery County Arts & Heritage Council of Clarksville, TN. King’s Mountain is taught in schools and featured at historical museums in four states.

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