Mary Ward Brown was born and raised in Hamburg, Ala., where her parents had a large farm. Although there were not a lot of books at home, her father was on the school board and would borrow books from the school superintendent for her. Brown enjoyed writing as a youth and was editor of her high school newspaper. She attended Judson College, studying English and journalism, and was editor of the college newspaper. After graduating with an AB degree in 1938, Brown became the publicity director for Judson but left in 1939 when she married and moved to Auburn, Ala., with her husband. Seven years later, Brown’s father died, and she and her husband moved back to Hamburg to manage the family farm.
Brown had begun to write short stories in Auburn and continued after the move to Hamburg. Although several of her stories were published in the early 1950s, the pressures of running the farm and raising her son led her to stop writing. She did take creative writing courses during this period, though, including one from the University of Alabama. After the death of her husband in the early 1970s, Brown began writing again. In 1978, she published a story in McCall's magazine. She continued to publish her stories in popular and literary magazines, and a collection of stories was published in 1986 as Tongues of Flame. In the mid-1980s, one of Brown’s stories, "The Cure," was included in an anthology of American and Russian writers, and she toured the Soviet Union with the other American authors from the project. A second collection of her stories was published in 2002. Brown continues to live and write in Hamburg.
Mary Ward Brown’s short stories are usually set in the South in the period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. They frequently show the impact of societal changes on the lives of ordinary people and their reactions to these changes.
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Photo by Jerry Siegel; courtesy of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.
Last updated on May 21, 2009.