Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Between 1962 and 1988, Ellen Douglas produced six novels. She also published a children’s book, “The Magic Carpet” and Other Tales, in which she retold familiar fairy tales. Her nonfiction works include a critical study, Walker Percy’s “The Last Gentleman” (1969) and numerous essays published in periodicals, journals, and edited collections.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

In 1961, Ellen Douglas received a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, and A Family’s Affairs (1962) was awarded a citation for best novel of the year by The New York Times. In 1963, Black Cloud, White Cloud was named one of the year’s five best fiction works by The New York Times. Her short story “On the Lake” was included in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards in 1961, and “Grant” was included in the 1996 collection. “Grant” also appeared in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best in 1996, and “Julia and Nellie” was selected for the annual publication the following year. She has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and grants from the National Education Association. In 1989, Douglas was honored by the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Ellen Douglas’s second book was a collection of short stories called Black Cloud, White Cloud (1963; rev. 1989), which was well-received critically, making the New York Times year’s best fiction list. She continued to write and publish short stories in various periodicals across her career. Douglas also wrote the nonfiction study A Long Night (1986), about the integration of the University of Mississippi. In 1987, she published a collection of fairy tales, myths, and legends, The Magic Carpet, and Other Tales, to accompany illustrations by the celebrated Mississippi artist Walter Anderson. Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell (1998), which Douglas herself calls fiction, is autobiographical and tells stories from several generations of her family’s history, culminating in the tale of their involvement in the execution of several slaves in 1861 because of a purported rebellion. Finally, Witnessing (2004) collects forty years of essays, those published elsewhere and some written for this book.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Ellen Douglas’s first novel, A Family’s Affairs, won the Houghton Mifflin Esquire Fellowship Award for the best new novel. A Family’s Affairs and her second book, Black Cloud, White Cloud, were both named among the ten best works of fiction of the year by The New York Times. Douglas received two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships. Her 1982 novel A Lifetime Burning won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award.

Douglas is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers (FSW). The success of her 1988 novel Can’t Quit You, Baby earned for her FSW’s first Hillsdale Prize for fiction. In 1999, the University Press of Mississippi held a symposium on Douglas’s life and work. She won a literature prize in 2000 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2008 received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters’ (MIAL) lifetime artistic achievement award. She has twice been awarded prizes by MIAL for her fiction (1979 and 1983).


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Broughton, Panthea Reid, and Susan Millar Williams. “Ellen Douglas.” In Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990. Focuses on Douglas’s development as an artist from her early works to Can’t Quit You, Baby. Black Cloud, White Cloud is discussed in detail.

Chappell, Fred. “The Good Songs Behind Us: Southern Fiction of the 1990’s.” In That’s What I Like (About the South) and Other New Southern Stories for the Nineties, edited by George Garrett and Paul Ruffin. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. Another important southern writer uses Ellen Douglas’s story “About Loving Women,” which appears in the volume, to exemplify the importance of memory and history in southern fiction.

Douglas, Ellen. Afterword to Black Cloud, White Cloud. Rev. ed. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989. The author identifies the themes and symbolic patterns she now sees dominate this book. She also emphasizes the importance of storytelling in a rapidly changing world.

Douglas, Ellen. “Interview with Ellen Douglas: February 25, 1997.” Interview by Charlene R. McCord. Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Culture 51 (Spring, 1998): 291-321. Deals primarily with the writing process...

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