Writers’ Lives From the Archives
In conjunction with the Words Awake celebration of Wake Forest writers, the spring exhibit in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections & Archives features six Wake Forest authors whose papers reside in the archives and manuscripts collections.
Laurence Stallings, Harold Hayes, John Charles McNeill, W.J. Cash, and Gerald Johnson received their undergraduate degrees from Wake Forest. Maya Angelou was awarded an honorary doctorate and is a member of the WFU faculty. Each collection is a fascinating record of the author’s life and career.
A writer’s published works are the end products of a long process of thinking, researching, drafting, and editing. The material on view in Writers’ Lives illustrates this process. In one letter Harold Hayes tries to interest Gerald Johnson in writing an article for Esquire on the hypothetical result of the South winning the Civil War. In another Laurence Stallings describes the trials and tribulations of rehearsing a Broadway musical with his collaborator Oscar Hammerstein. W.J. Cash’s typewriter sits next to his annotated typescript of The Mind of the South. John Charles McNeill’s college notebook contains manuscript versions of poems published in Wake Forest’s Student magazine. An early draft of Maya Angelou’s screen adaptation of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is handwritten on notebook paper.
All of the archival materials in these collections were donated to ZSR Library by the authors themselves or by their family members and friends. Special Collections & Archives now makes them available to researchers all over the world.