This Goodly Land
H. E. Taliaferro (March 4, 1811–November 2, 1875)
Other Names Used
- Hardin Edwards Taliaferro: full name
- Mark Hardin Taliaferro: birth/christening name
- Skitt: childhood nickname, used as pen name
- Talladega, Talladega County: adult residence
- Tuskegee, Macon County: adult residence
- Auburn, Lee County: served as circuit preacher
- Notasulga, Lee and Macon Counties: served as circuit preacher
- Cotton Valley, Macon County: served as circuit preacher
- Taliaferro, H. E. The Grace of God Magnified: An Experimental Tract. Charleston, S. C.: Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1857.
- Skitt. Fisher's River (North Carolina): Scenes and Characters. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1859. Rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1977. An online version of Fisher's River is available from Wright American Fiction, 1851-1875.
- Taliaferro, H. E. Carolina Humor. Ed. David K. Jackson. Richmond, Va.: The Dietz Press, 1938.
- Taliaferro, H. E. The Humor of H. E. Taliaferro. Ed. Raymond C. Craig. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.
H. E. Taliaferro (pronounced "Tolliver") was born in western North Carolina on a farm near Fisher's River. As a boy, he worked at a local grist mill. When he was eighteen, Taliaferro moved to Roane County in eastern Tennessee to live with several older brothers from whom he learned the tanning trade. Two of his brothers were also Baptist preachers. Taliaferro felt called to preach, too, and, to prepare, he studied for a year at Madisonville Academy in Madisonville, Tenn. In 1835, Taliaferro moved to Talladega, Ala. Supporting himself and his family by farming and working as a tanner, he began preaching at churches in the area. In the 1840s, several of his sermons were published in the Virginia Baptist Preacher. In 1855, Taliaferro moved to Tuskegee, Ala., to join his brother-in-law in editing the South Western Baptist (he became senior editor in 1858). In addition to editing, Taliaferro wrote articles and sketches for the paper. He preached part-time at a local Tuskegee church and served as circuit preacher for churches in Auburn, Notasulga, Bethel, and Cotton Valley.
In 1857, Taliaferro wrote and published a religious tract The Grace of God Magnified describing a spiritual crisis he had undergone a few years earlier. The same year, a visit to the area of North Carolina where he had grown up inspired him to write a series of humorous sketches. His book Fisher's River was published in 1859, and nine additional sketches were published in the Southern Literary Messenger in the early 1860s. In 1862, Taliaferro suspended publication of the South Western Baptist, citing wartime shortages, and returned to the tanning business. When the war ended, he started a new paper, the Tuskegee News, which he edited for several years. From 1869 to 1872, Taliaferro was appointed by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to work with local black Baptists. He trained preachers and organized a statewide convention. In 1873, Taliaferro left Alabama and returned to Roane County, Tenn. He died there two years later.
Interests and Themes
H. E. Taliaferro's sketches of Appalachian life in western North Carolina are examples of Old Southwest humor.
For More Information
Please check your local library for these materials. If items are not available locally, your librarian can help you borrow them through the InterLibrary Loan program. Your librarian can also help you find other information about this author.
There may be more information available through the databases in the Alabama Virtual Library. If you are an Alabama citizen, AVL can be used at your public library or school library media center. You can also get a username and password from your librarian to use AVL at home.
- Anderson-Green, Paula Hathaway. "Folktales in the Literary Work of Harden [sic] E. Taliaferro: A View of Southern Appalachian Life in the Early Nineteenth Century". North Carolina Folklore Journal 31.2. (1983): 65-75.
- Coffin, Tristram P. "Harden [sic] E. Taliaferro and the Use of Folklore by American Literary Figures". South Atlantic Quarterly 64. (1965): 241-246.
- Ginther, James E. "Harden [sic] E. Taliaferro, A Sketch". Mark Twain Quarterly 9. (1953): 13-15, 20.
- Penrod, James H. "Harden [sic] Taliaferro, Folk Humorist of North Carolina". Midwest Folklore 6. (1956): 147-153.
- Walser, Richard. "Biblio-Biography of Skitt Taliaferro". North Carolina Historical Review 55. (1978): 375-395.
- Walser, Richard. "Skitt Taliaferro: Facts and Reappraisal". American Humor: An Interdisciplinary Newsletter 4.1. (1977): 7-10.
- Williams, Cratis D. "Mountain Customs, Social Life, and Folk Yarns in Taliaferro's Fisher's River Scenes and Characters". North Carolina Folklore Journal 16. (1968): 143-152.
Reference Book Prefaces
- Craig, Raymond C. Introduction. The Humor of H. E. Taliaferro by H. E. Taliferro. Ed. Raymond C. Craig. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, . 3-5.
- Craig, Raymond C. [Foreword.] H. E. Taliaferro. The Humor of H. E. Taliaferro by H. E. Taliferro. Ed. Raymond C. Craig. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, . 7-37.
- Craig, Raymond C. [Foreword.] Taliaferro's Humor. The Humor of H. E. Taliaferro by H. E. Taliferro. Ed. Raymond C. Craig. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, . 39-59.
- Jackson, David K. Foreword. Carolina Humor by H. E. Taliferro. Ed. David K. Jackson. Richmond, Va.: The Dietz Press, . iii-viii.
Reference Web Sites
Last updated on Dec 21, 2009.