Rheta Grimsley Johnson was born in Colquitt, Ga., and grew up in Montgomery, Ala. She knew at an early age that she wanted to become a journalist and began working on her school newspaper in eighth grade. Johnson majored in journalism at Auburn University, graduating in 1975. During her senior year, she was editor of the university newspaper. After her marriage to cartoonist Jimmy Johnson, the couple started a weekly paper on St. Simon Island, Ga. The paper closed after six months, and Johnson worked for several years for newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi and for United Press International. In 1980, Johnson became a reporter for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. She soon began writing columns for the Commercial Appeal as well.
In 1983, the Scripps-Howard News Service began distributing Johnson’s columns nationwide. Johnson was on the road much of the time, traveling around the South to gather material for her columns. In 1987, a collection of her columns for the Commercial Appeal was published as America’s Faces. Two years later, Johnson published a biography of Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schultz. In 1994, Johnson began working as a staff columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and moved to Carrollton, Ga. She left the Journal-Constitution in 2001 and moved to Iuka, Miss. Johnson and her second husband divide their time between Iuka and Henderson, La. She continues to write syndicated columns on a weekly basis.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson writes largely about life in the contemporary rural South. Her biography of Charles M. Schultz offers a respectful examination of the cartoonist and his work.
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Photo courtesy of NewSouth Books.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.