Kathryn Tucker Windham was born in a hospital in Selma, Ala., and grew up in Thomasville, Ala., surrounded by her extended family. She became interested in the newspaper business at an early age, assisting her cousin, the editor of the Thomasville Times, and writing movie reviews for the paper. She also became interested in photography after receiving a Brownie camera in a Kodak promotional giveaway. Windham attended Huntingdon College, where she worked on the college newspaper. After graduating with an AB in 1939, Windham worked as a freelance journalist. In 1941, she was hired as a police reporter and feature writer by The Alabama Journal in Montgomery. In 1943, Windham moved to Birmingham to work for the U.S. Treasury Department promoting war bond sales. She missed journalism, however, and began working for The Birmingham News in 1944. In 1946, Windham and her husband moved to Selma, where she wrote freelance articles while raising her children. In the early 1950s, she also wrote a locally syndicated newspaper column, “Around Our House.” After her husband’s death, Windham worked for the Selma Times-Journal from 1960-1973. Windham was community relations coordinator for the Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Regional Planning and Development Commission’s Area Agency on Aging for four years in the mid-1970s.
Windham’s first book, Treasured Alabama Recipes, was published in 1967. Perhaps her best-known book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, cowritten with folklorist Margaret Figh, was published in 1969. In 1974, Windham was invited to participate in the second annual National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. She became a founder of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling and has served on its board of directors. She continues to perform at festivals across the South and has made recordings of her stories. In 1984, Windham began doing radio commentaries for WUAL, the public radio station in Tuscaloosa. For eighteen months in the mid-1980s, these were also broadcast by National Public Radio. Also in the mid-1980s, Windham wrote and began performing My Name Is Julia, a one-woman play about the life of Alabama educator and reformer Julia S. Tutwiler. Alabama Public Television filmed and aired a special version of My Name Is Julia in 1993. Windham published a memoir of her experiences as a journalist, Odd-Egg Editor, in 1990. Windham’s early interest in photography has continued throughout her life. The first public exhibition of her photographs took place in 1993, and she has published several books of photographs. In 2000, Windham received the Alabama Humanities Award from the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
Much of Kathryn Tucker Windham’s writing is based in Alabama and includes collections of stories about her family, her work, and the places in which she has lived. She has also written several cookery books and collections of ghost stories, all of them based in the South.
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Photo courtesy of NewSouth Books.
Last updated on Jun 03, 2008.