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Released Februrary 9, 2004


HATTIESBURG - A noted Civil War author and professor of American history at The University of Southern Mississippi will receive the 2004 Richard Wright Literary Award.

Dr. William K. Scarborough will be honored at the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration on Feb. 28 for his nonfiction work Masters of the Big House.

Created in 1994, the award honors internationally known author Richard Wright, a Mississippian whose first novel, Native Son, achieved immediate success upon its release in 1940.

Each year, two living writers with strong ties to Mississippi are honored in both a fiction and nonfiction/historical category. Novelist Greg Iles is the recipient of this year's fiction category award.

"It's quite an honor just to be considered for this award, given the accomplishments of the past recipients," Scarborough said.

Past winners include Eudora Welty, 1994; Margaret Walker Alexander, 1995; Ellen Douglas and Willie Morris, 1996; Shelby Foote and Elizabeth Spencer, 1997; Richard Ford and Will Campbell, 1998; Barry Hannah and Sterling Plumpp, 1999; Beth Henley and David Sansing, 2000; John Grisham and Bill Minor, 2001; John Marszalek and Lewis Nordan, 2002; and Clifton Taulbert and T.R. Hummer.

"Bill Scarborough's winning the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award confirms what anyone who has read his work already knows: he is an outstanding scholar and a gifted writer," said Dr. Chuck Bolton, chair of the Department of History at Southern Miss.

Scarborough's scholarly chronicles of the slaveholding South go back to his first book, The Overseer, published in 1966. His latest effort, published by LSU Press, focuses on the wealthiest few among the antebellum planters, those who owned 250 slaves or more. Reviewed in the October edition of the Atlantic Monthly, Scarborough's book was called "a remarkable feat of archival excavation."

Considered a leading authority on the plantation slavery system of the Old South, Scarborough has written or edited more than five books, chapters in four other books, a dozen articles and more than 60 book reviews. Scarborough also wrote The Diary of Edmund Ruffin, which, along with his latest book, won the Jules and Frances Landry Award (1989, 2003), which is given by LSU Press to the best manuscript submitted during the calendar year in the field of Southern Studies. He is only the fourth author in the 35-year history of the award to have won it twice.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM