This Goodly Land
James Still (July 16, 1906–April 28, 2001)
- LaFayette, Chambers County: born nearby, childhood residence
- Shawmut, Chambers County: brief childhood residence
- Jarrett Station, Chambers County: brief childhood residence
- Fairfax, Chambers County: high school education
- Still, James. River of Earth. New York: The Viking Press, 1940. Rpt. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1978.
- Still, James. Way Down Yonder on Troublesome Creek: Appalachian Riddles and Rusties. Illus. Janet McCaffery. New York: Putnam, 1974. For younger readers.
- Still, James. Pattern of a Man & Other Stories. Lexington, Ky.: Gnomon, 1976.
- Still, James. Jack and the Wonder Beans. Illus. Margot Tomes. New York: Putnam, 1977. Rpt. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996. For younger readers.
- Still, James. The Run for the Elbertas. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1980.
- Still, James. The Wolfpen Notebooks: A Record of Appalachian Life. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991.
- Still, James. From the Mountain From the Valley: New and Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Olson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
- Still, James. Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve. Woodstock, Ill.: Dramatic Pub., 2006.
- “Job’s Tears” included in O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1937
- “So Large a Thing as Seven” included in O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1938
- “Bat Flight,” Second Prize, O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1939
- “The Proud Walkers” included in O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1941
- Southern Authors Award, Southern Women's National Democratic Organization, 1947, for River of Earth
- Fiction Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1947
- Marjorie Peabody Waite Award, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1979
- Kentucky Poet Laureate, appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1995-1996
- James Still Award for Writing About the Appalachian South, Fellowship of Southern Writers, 1997
James Still was born on a farm near LaFayette, Ala., and began writing as a child. In 1924, he enrolled at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee because it offered work scholarships for poor students. One of his jobs was as library janitor, giving him after-hours access to books and magazines, an opportunity of which he took full advantage. Still earned an MA in English from Vanderbilt University in 1930 and a BS in Library Science from University of Illinois in 1931. In the fall of 1932, after a year of unsuccessfully looking for work, he became the librarian at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky’s Appalachian region working the first three years just for room and board, then for a modest salary.
Still continued writing and published stories and poems in national magazines. In 1937, he published his first book of poems, Hounds on the Mountain. In 1939, he quit his librarian job to live in the community, get to know its people, and work full-time on his writing. His novel, River of Earth, published in 1940, was based on the lives of the local residents. Following World War II, when he served in the Army Air Force in Africa, Still returned to his Kentucky cabin and his writing. In the 1940s, Still was awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships. He again served as librarian at Hindman from 1952 to 1962, then taught English at Morehead State University from 1962 to 1971. At that point, he retired to write full-time, producing children’s books, collections of folklore, short stories, and poetry.
Interests and Themes
In all his works, James Still strove for a faithful and respectful representation of Appalachian life and folklore. In addition, his writings depict the universal struggle to survive and find stability in a difficult and constantly changing world.
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.
- Cadle, Dean. "Pattern of a Writer: Attitudes of James Still". Appalachian Journal 15.2. (1988): 104-143.
- Chappell, Fred. "The Seamless Vision of James Still". Appalachian Journal 8.3. (1981): 196-202.
- Stoneback, H. R. "Rivers of Earth and Troublesome Creeks: The Agrarianism of James Still". Kentucky Review 10.3. (1990): 3-26.
Reference Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries
- "Still, James 1906-2001"; Something About the Author. Vol. 29. Detroit: Gale Research Company, . 197-199.
- Still, James. "A Man Singing To Himself: An Autobiographical Essay"; From the Mountain From the Valley: New and Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Olson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, . 5-24.
Reference Web Sites
Location of Papers
- Berea College
- Morehead State University
- University of Kentucky
Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky, all rights reserved, Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Last updated on May 21, 2009.