Eatonton, GA

What is remarkable about a small town in which you need to travel a winding highway for about an hour from an Interstate highway?

No matter what road you take, the scenery is phenomenal.

Alice Walker was born in Eatonton in 1944. It is hard to fathom that the young feminist of the early seventies is now in her seventies. Best know for the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of her novel "The Color Purple". She has written many books, essays, and short stories.

I wanted to post her picture on the blog; but, I was not able to find one without copyright protection.

Southern Manor Farm, the childhood home of Alice Walker, is a Museum about Alice Walker. Fans of Alice Walker will enjoy a driving tour of Alice Walker related sites. Alice Walker has donated her papers to Emory University in Atlanta.

Lovely Hoffman playing Celie in The Color Purple
Lovely Hoffman playing Celie in "The Color Purple"

Joel Chandler Harris by Lucy May StantonAnother celebrated writer from Eatonton was Joel Chander Harris. Born illegitimate and teased for having red hair, Mr. Harris was a shy, humble man. At 16 and during the civil war, Harris was hired as a printer's apprentice on the Turnwald plantation. He had access to the oral tradition of slaves telling stories. His Uncle Remus stories were an amalgamation of tales told by Uncle George Terrell, Old Herbert, and Aunt Crissy.

The stories themselves were Cherokee in origin. The slaves probably acquired the stories through enslavement or intermarriage with Cherokees. Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Tarbaby stories were part of Cherokee stories. The Yoruba from Africa also had a rabbit trickster in their stories which were probably part of the tales.

Response to the stories have been mixed. The stories and folklore are a treasure. Hollywood's 1940s interpretation of the stories are not well received by all African Americans. What has mitigated these responses is how Joel Chandler Harris treated African Americans in his life. Mr. Harris advocated for education and advancement for African Americans. When African Americans were threatened during race riots, he hid many in his basement until it was safe for them to leave.

There is an Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton.

Joel Chandler Harris' West End home in Atlanta is a museum.

Wren's Nest, 1914

Eatonton ga-brer rabbit-2

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  1. Intriguing! My mother wrote her English thesis on Alice Walker, so our house is full of her books. And as a storyteller, I am always surprise my American students have not heard about Uncle Remus tales... I had no idea the two were connected this way! Thank you!

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    1. The difference in language of today from the late 1800's is a problem for students. Students in the Atlanta suburbs, where I taught, could not follow Paul Bunyan tales but students from central Georgia loved the tall tales.
      One big problem Uncle Remus tales have today is that many African Americans do not like them.

  2. You do have to go pretty much anywhere to get somewhere and there is a lot to see. First I've heard of him.

    1. Oh Canada, you were just too busy reading about Big Joe Mufaraw. ;=)

  3. That is very interesting background. Two amazing writers from one small town is unusual, isn't it?

    1. Flannery O'Conner's home, Andalusia, is nearby too.
      I think it is the Irish temperament that made it's home here.

  4. Eatonton is 20 minutes south of here. I've driven by Alice Walker's childhood home but never turned in. Always rushing somewhere. Truett Cathy, the Chick-Fil-A founder was also born in Eatonton. I have visited Andalusia, Flannery O'Conner's home. That's about 20 minutes further down 441 in Milledgeville. They are trying to start/build a Georgia Writer's Museum there.

    1. I am starting a list of places I want to go. I am unable to visit much because I have people that need my time. I'm not in a hurry; but, there may a time in the future I can go to these places. It is a shame I did not when I wasn't so boxed in time wise.


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