A Literary Map of North Carolina is a handy travel planning tool for your journey through North Carolina literature. I’ll admit, I’m not a voracious reader; my idea of a great book is a road atlas or a gazetteer. If’n I was inclined to read books by North Carolina authors, or books set in North Carolina, where would I start? With a map, of course!
A Literary Map of North Carolina was published by the North Carolina English Teachers Association in 1950.1 Published that same year was a sheet folding into six unnumbered pages, providing brief biographical sketches of North Carolina writers.2 The map shows very few towns and does not show counties. The map does show a number of authors in proximity to their birthplace or residence.
Forty years later, Malone’s new literary map of North Carolina, designed by E. T. Malone, Jr., and endorsed by the NC English Teachers Association, was published by the Literary Lantern Press.3 This map lists authors within the county of their birth or their current or former residence.
In 2018, Malone published a newly updated edition of his literary map.
A description of the map from the author’s web site: While retaining the basic look of the original, the reprinting adds over 30 new authors, updates biographical information and literary awards, and inserts a number of pieces of new artwork. It continues to be the only full-scale literary map available for the state of North Carolina. This hand-colored map shows the boundaries of all 100 of North Carolina’s counties and locates writers either in the counties in which they were born, the places they spent most of their careers, or significant locales with which their writing is associated. Also included are writers from outside North Carolina who have authored important books with settings in the state, as well as some writers who spent a portion of their careers in North Carolina but were born elsewhere or later moved elsewhere. Nothing is computer generated on this map. The map of the state itself, the line drawings that illustrate it, the borders, and all the lettering were rendered personally by the author.4 An interesting story about the map was published in the Wilmington Star News in 2018. Of note, the author has also published literary maps of Georgia and Florida.
In my opinion, nothing can beat a good ol’ fashion paper map. Sometimes, my opinions are wrong. UNC-Greensboro’s “North Carolina Literary Map” web site is truly spectacular. It is an online database that “tracks authors and the local towns where their stories are set.”5 The web site allows one to see all authors by county, or view all titles by county. One can also search the entire site by author, by title, or by genre. Yes, there are also maps! You’ll find them amongst the list of literary walking tours. The database contains 2,672 authors and 6,024 titles (accessed 22 February 2021). The criteria for inclusion, as stated on their web site “focuses on works written about North Carolina and authors who were born in North Carolina, who currently live or have lived in North Carolina, who have written about North Carolina, or who have made a significant contribution to the North Carolina’s literary landscape. The author must have at least one publication cataloged by the Library of Congress.” Obviously, that last criterion was designed to keep anonymous blog authors off the list. With good reason. Click on the map below to start your journey!
Comments and corrections are always welcome. Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below. The following statement is purely for search engine optimization. I’m told that I need at least one internal link, so here’s a linky to the very first NC Map Blog post from August 2012.
- Walser, Richard. 1950. Key to A literary map of North Carolina.
- Malone, E. T. 1990. Malone’s new literary map of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Literary Lantern Press. https://catalog.lib.unc.edu/catalog/UNCb2391095
- See http://www.malonesmaps.com/maps_nc.html
- Evan Markfield, “Literary Heritage: The North Carolina Literary Map: An online database tracks authors and the local towns where their stories are set,” Out State Magazine, April 2013, https://www.ourstate.com/nc-literary-map/ (accessed 22 February 2021).