Memphis Downtowner February 2012 : Page 8

DISCOVERY901 Shelby Foote, sitting in his home office on East Parkway in Memphis upon publication of his novel September September in 1978. Shelby Foote Collection by Richard J. Alley “From Bristol to the Tennessee line, all hundred and thirty-odd miles of road and half-drowned farmland, gridded with silver pencilings of water in the furrows on its flanks, were flat as the palm of your hand until the car struck the rising ground of the Chickasaw Bluff, where the cotton and corn and beans left off and Memphis had its being.”— September September by Shelby Foote “I wrote the first volume on the exact western city limits of Memphis because [my home] was on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River,” Shelby Foote said about his three-volume magnum opus, The Civil War: A Narrative . “All three volumes were written, every line of them, in Memphis.” Not only was the historical narrative of The Civil War written here, but 1978’s September September is set on those same bluffs, near Beale Street and Riverside Drive. So it only seems fitting that these handwritten manuscripts and the notes accompanying them should find a permanent home within Memphis — specifically in The Paul Barret Jr. Library at Rhodes College. In spring 2011, copious amounts of books, notes, newspaper clippings, maps, photos, and other marginalia were boxed up at the 8 MEMPHIS DOWNTOWNER FEBRUARY 2012 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where many of the items had been on extended loan — and at Foote’s Memphis home on East Parkway for their move to the Rhodes library. It was a move that Rhodes President Bill Troutt said at the time was “a very special moment in the life of our college.” “It was important to me that the entire collection be kept intact and preserved in its integrity to inspire and, I think, amaze this and future generations of scholars,” said Foote’s son, Huger, to local dignitaries and boosters gathered at a reception celebrating the announcement in March. “Rhodes shares this vision.” It seems inevitable that the collection should be housed here, given Foote’s ties to his adopted hometown and the college — just down the street from his East Parkway house — where he received an honorary degree in 1982 and lectured in 1988 and 1991. memphisdowntowner.com courtesy Memphis and Shelby County Room

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