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Joel Chandler Harris

writer of stories

Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1848. As a boy he was always fond of games and of animals, but he also liked to sit quietly and listen to people to talk. He had a very good memory for the way people talked and the things they said. From 1862 to 1866, he worked as a printer on a plantation near his home. The plantation owner, Joseph Addison Turner, published a newspaper called The Countryman, and he encouraged Harris to write essays and poems. Harris became acquainted with the slaves on the plantation, learned their customs and language, and listened to their stories. It was from this background that Harris drew the inspiration for his most successful writings.

From 1876 to 1900, Harris wrote for the Atlanta Constitution, and his first Uncle Remus stories appeared in that newspaper. According to the stories, Uncle Remus is a former slave who has become a beloved servant of a Southern family. He entertains the young son of the family by telling them traditional black stories, using Southern black speech of the 1800's. The stories include tales about animals that act like human beings, including Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, and Br'er Wolf. The stories became so popular that he collected them in book form as Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, which was published in 1880. The popularity of the book led Harris to publish more collections of Uncle Remus stories, including Uncle Remus and His Friends (1892) and Uncle Remus and Br'er Rabbit (1906).

Uncle Remus characters

Harris also wrote many stories and novels about life in the South during and after the Civil War. In On the Wing of Occasions (1900), a collection of stories, Harris introduced a character called Billy Sanders, the Sage of Shady Dale. Through Sanders, Harris expressed the opinions of many middle-class Georgians on various subjects.

Joel Chandler Harris died in 1908.

See Also

Civil War

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The Robinson Library >> American Literature >> 19th Century

This page was last updated on 12/09/2018.