Portrait of Sharyn McCrumb

Sharyn McCrumb (1948-)
Roanoke County, writer

The award-winning novels of Sharyn Elaine Arwood McCrumb celebrate the richness and variety of Appalachian culture.

Sharyn Elaine Arwood McCrumb (born February 26, 1948) celebrates the history and folklore of Appalachia through her books, many of which were New York Times Best-Sellers. In her Ballad novels, McCrumb weaves together the legends, natural wonders and contemporary issues of Appalachia to combat the misperceptions of the region. Descended from circuit preachers, teachers, and storytellers, McCrumb uses mountain history and legends to present the richness and variety of Appalachian culture, exploring the continuing effect of the past on the present. She has also published two novels exploring the culture of Appalachia's home grown sport of NASCAR.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, McCrumb received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in English from Virginia Tech. Awards for her writing include the 1997 Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature from the Appalachian Writers Association. Shepherd College honored her with its inaugural Appalachian Heritage Writers Award in 1999, and in 2003 she received the Wilma Dykeman Award for Regional Historical Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Other awards include the 2006 Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award for St. Dale, and the Chaffin Award for Achievement in Southern Literature from Morehead (KY) State University in 1998. Her books, named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, are studied in schools and colleges throughout the world. McCrumb says: "My books are like Appalachian quilts: I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life, and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South."

Supplemental Resources

Excerpts from "Keepers of the Legend: An Essay on the Influences of Family Legends and Folklore on Fiction" By Sharyn McCrumb (pdf)

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