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While reading a reproduced copy of  The WPA Guide to Kentucky by F. Kevin Simon, Editor, I came across the name of Elizabeth Madox Roberts, a Kentucky writer who was born near Perryville, Kentucky in 1885.  She did not write of the mountaineer Kentuckian, as most authors of her period were doing, but wrote of the lives of Kentucky farmers living in central Kentucky.  Many of her characters were sharecroppers and their families who literally eked out a living by inches each day.  Her descriptions of life for these people, our ancestors, are still fresh reading today.  Some of her books are Under the Trees, The Great Meadow, The Time of Man, and Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair.  The Danville/Boyle County Public Library has some of these books in the rare book room.  Some are available to be checked out for reading; others must be read in the library only.

Elizabeth Madox Roberts' parents were Simpson Roberts and Mary Elizabeth Brent, both descendants of early pioneers to Kentucky.  She was the second child in a family of eight children.  Her father fought with Bragg on the Confederate side during the War Between the States and her maternal grandfather was a Union officer at the beginning of this same war.  When she was three years old her family moved to Springfield, Kentucky, where she lived most of her life.  Her father was a farmer, scholar, schoolteacher, soldier, surveyor, civil engineer, and merchant.  Miss Roberts attended Covington Institute, a private school in Springfield, and later received Doctorate of Letters degrees from Centre College and the University of Louisville.  From 1900-1910 she taught private classes and was a public school teacher in Springfield and surrounding areas. Her college career began for her at the age of 36, when a family friend, Professor James T. Cotton Noe of the University of Kentucky, recommended her to a professor at the University of Chicago.  After deciding to concentrate on writing, she returned to Kentucky, the source of her inspiration and art.  She never married.  She died in Orlando, Florida in 1941 and is buried in Springfield, Kentucky.  Her papers are located in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Sources:  Elizabeth Madox Roberts by Frederick P.W. McDowell and The WPA Guide to Kentucky by F. Kevin Simon.

Submitted by Carolyn B. Crabtree


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