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Authors' Day

If you’ve known the pains of writing a story you will understand that writing a whole book is no easy task. Authors’ Day commemorates all the wonders that have been spun into the world by the pen of these creative souls, but especially those works of the Author.

It was 1928, and the Illinois Women’s Club was meeting yet again to enjoy the writings of some of their favourite authors. Nellie Verne Burt McPherson decided to bring up the idea of having a day dedicated to American Authors and brought it up amongst her fellow club members. Nellie had spent her life as a teacher and an avid lover of literature, and one day had written a letter to Irving’s Bacheller while she was recovering in a hospital in WWI. She had thoroughly enjoyed Irving’s story “Eben Holden’s Last Day A’ Fishin”, and was overjoyed to receive an autographed copy of another story he had written.

So, touched by this show of appreciation by her favourite author that she determined that the only way she could properly show her appreciation was by setting aside a day to honour all American Authors, and to do so she submitted her suggestion to the General Federation of Women’s Club. Her idea did not go unheeded, and 20 years later, in 1949, the United States Department of Commerce made it an official holiday, Authors’ Day, and it’s been celebrated every year ever since, it is now not just a America event but worldwide.

There are two ways to start your Authors’ Day celebration, either by picking up a favourite author or finding one you haven’t read yet and finally cracking it open.

I shall be re- reading the Tales of Brer Rabbit this year. It is a favourite from my childhood. The Brer Rabbit stories were based largely on African folk tales, and the ones that we commonly known as the Uncle Remus stories were written by Atlanta reporter Joel Chandler Harris in the 1880s. Harris had originally been told the stories by the former slaves he knew as a child.

While Harris performed a great service to African-American culture by popularizing these stories, today he is largely dismissed as a racist because he wrote in a strong dialect, one that even then was surely beginning to fade away. However, as written by then Harris, the Brer Rabbit tales were largely an attempt to preserve an important part of American cultural history before it disappeared.

I will be reading a more modern version without the racist language. The copy of “The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit from stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris and illustrated by Don Daily” was brought to my attention by one of our New Haw learners who had chosen it as his leaving present from Year 6. We both love the illustrations!

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