Carolina’s Legendary Writer – Fred Chappell


Many notable and legendary artists and writers hailed from the United States. Some distinguished persons who have joined the ranks of the English literary canon include F. Scott Fitzgerald for The Great Gatsby, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In addition to these world-renowned individuals and their universal works of literature, more contemporary Americans writers are making their mark in the field. One of these notable literary artists hails from North Carolina – Fred Chappell. With several award-winning works, significant positions, and laureates received, he is truly Carolina’s legendary writer.

Fred Chappell – A Short Biography

Carolina’ highly acclaimed author was born in 1936, in Canton, North Carolina. Fred Chappell was the son of James Taylor, a furniture seller. At the age of 23, after his marriage to Susan Nicholls in 1959, he went on to work as an editor with the prestigious Duke University’s Press. While working, he was also pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree for fiction writing at the Duke University which he finished in 1961. After this, he also continued at Duke and pursued a Master’s Degree in 1964. During the years he spent there, he befriended several people with their own writing talents such as Reynolds Price, James Appelwhite, and Anne Tyler. After that, he worked as an English professor with the University of NC in Greensboro for four decades until he retired. While there, he helped found the university’s Master of Fine Arts program for writing.

A Lifetime of Literary Work

Fred Chappell was a very prolific writer. He had authored several novels, short story and poetry collections, and critical prose books. Because of his hard work and talent in the field of writing, he had received several prestigious awards in the area. Some of these include the Aiken Taylor Award, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Academie Française’s prize for the best foreign book, and the Bollingen Award. From 1997 to 2002, he also held the position of North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. Chappell’s literary work, both prose, and poetry, reflects life and humanity through the lens of the Southern experience. Following the tradition and style of fellow Southern writers like Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, Chappell’s major work carry the characteristics of Southern Gothic literature.

Fred Chappell
Fred Chappell

In his well-known novels Dagon (1968), It is Time, Lord (1963), and The Inkling (1965), the themes of madness, horror, and violence are explored. While short stories by Chappell like “I Am One of You Forever,” The Kirkman Tetralogy, and “Farewell, I’m Bound to Leave You” contain some autobiographical aspects that may have been based on Fred Chappell’s personal experiences. Fred Chappell rose in the field of literature as a prose writer. However, later on in his writing career, he became known as well for his poetry collections. He had told commentators and critiques about his experiences as a poet and commented on how the composition of poetry is one of the most significant endeavors in the world that uses a man’s intellect and artistry. Some notable poetry collections by Chappell include The World Between the Eyes, Midquest, and Awakening to Music.