John Fox, Jr., Appalachian Author

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About the Book

John Fox, Jr., was one of the first writers to use the mountains of southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky as a backdrop for his stories and novels about a people whose culture faced extinction. Writing was not a profession he chose quickly or painlessly—he was well into middle age when he made the decision and he struggled with his choice for a long time after—but he made quite a name for himself through his work.

This work is a biography of Fox. It draws from personal and family correspondence and covers his entire life, from his birth in Stony Point, Kentucky, in 1862, to his death from pneumonia in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, in 1919. His early life and education at his father’s school, his two years at Transylvania University in Lexington, his transfer to Harvard and graduation in 1883, his work for the New York Sun and Times and smaller newspapers, and return home in the mid–1880s to work with his half-brother in the coal mines are all documented. It was also around this time that he began his first novel, A Mountain Europa, and over the next thirty years he wrote dozens of short stories and nine novels from the family home in Big Stone Gap, including Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (his first to gain the status of bestseller) and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

About the Author(s)

Bill York is a high school social studies teacher and lives in London, Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

Bill York

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 328
Bibliographic Info: photos, chronology, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1372-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8458-4
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1

1 Early Spring–1916     9
2 A School Teacher’s Son     12
3 Off to School     18
4 Boom and Bust, Part I     26
5 New York Reporter     35
6 A Tale of Two Cities     49
7 Boom and Bust, Part II: The Gap     58
8 A Knight of the Cumberland     76
9 Feuds and Romance     97
10 The Whirl-Wind     106
11 The Spanish-American War    119
12 The Horizontal Hail-Storm    139
13 The Road to Recovery    155
14 The Crook of the Shepherd    170
15 Cherry Blossom Correspondents     179
16 The Backward Trail     199
17 A Noble Profession     208
18 An Imperfect Union     218
19 The Eyes of a Father     237
20 West and East—North and South     247
21 Last Dance     260
22 Surviving     266

Afterword     269
Chronology     277
Notes     281
Bibliography     304
Index     311

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “engagingly written…a good job”—Journal of Appalachian Studies
  • “rich and revealing…meticulously researched…well-written…a very welcome addition”—Appalachian Heritage
  • “comprehensive…earlier biographies lack the depth and scope of York’s work…York provides unique insight…valuable…interesting and informative endnotes…a thorough bibliography and numerous photographs of John Fox, his family and friends…useful”—Appalachian Journal
  • “one of the first writers to use the mountains of southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky as a backdrop for his stories about a culture that faced extinction”—Carolina Country
  • “something of a masterpiece…it is rich in detail, color, lore and tells a tale that seems as though it came from the mind, rather than just the facts…highly recommended”—The Sentinel(London, Kentucky)
  • “straightforward…comprehensive…informative”—Watauga Democrat