Inspiration in the Mountains: Writers & Western North Carolina

Did you know that Alexander Key, author of the beloved science-fiction novel, Escape to Witch Mountain, lived in Macon County for a while? Or that famous English children’s author Frances Hodgson Burnett enjoyed her time in Western North Carolina so much she set one of her novels, Louisiana, here? You can learn about these and other authors influenced by North Carolina’s highlands in Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center’s newest exhibit, Inspiration in the Mountains: Writers & Western North Carolina.

Inspiration in the Mountains features more than a dozen authors who drew inspiration for their craft from the misty Blue Ridge, the Great Smokies, and other mountain ranges in the region. Some of the authors included in the exhibit are:

  • Gloria Houston, an Avery County native and Appalachian State University alumna who taught at Western Carolina University and became an internationally known educator and author of bestselling children’s books, including The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and My Great-Aunt Arizona.
  • Margaret Morley, an internationally recognized expert on agriculture and beekeeping, who is perhaps best remembered as a children’s author, illustrator, and photographer. The Carolina Mountains, Morley’s only work for adults that featured her own photography, was the result of her travels through Western North Carolina at the turn of the twentieth century.
  • Josefina Niggli, a Mexican-born Anglo-American poet, playwright and novelist, whose first novel, Mexican Village, became a movie.  After working as a writer for two Hollywood studios, Niggli taught English and drama for two decades at Western Carolina University, where she helped found the theater department. The university’s theater is named for her.
  • Lloyd Arneach, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and expert storyteller, who has traveled across the United States, sharing stories about Cherokee traditions, his own personal experiences, and from contemporary and historical events. He is the author of Long-Ago Stories of the Eastern Cherokee and a children’s book, The Animals’ Ballgame. 

This exhibit runs till January 5, 2020.