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UWA to honor authors Windham, Brown

The University of West Alabama’s Center for the Study of the Black Belt will honor Alabama authors Mary Ward Brown and Kathryn Tucker Windham with a birthday celebration on June 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bell Conference Center.

“This celebration is our way of thanking Mary Ward Brown and Kathryn Tucker Windham for their many contributions to the region’s folkways and culture,” said Valerie P. Burnes, the director of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt. “We hope everyone will join us in celebrating the works of these two fine storytellers,”

Born June 18, 1917, in Hamburg, Ala., Brown is the author of three story collections, “Tongues of Flame,” “Fanning the Spark” and “It Wasn’t All Dancing.”

A graduate of Judson College in Marion, Brown is known for her depiction of the South through a wide array of topics, including religion, race and class conflicts, and other struggles common in the region’s most rural areas.

Brown’s writing has garnered a host of awards including the Harper Lee Award from the Alabama Writers Forum, two Alabama Author Awards from the Alabama Library Association and the Hillsdale Fiction Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Windham was born June 2, 1918, in Selma and was raised in Thomasville. She is the author of several short story collections and cookbooks.

Her first collection, “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey,” began her career as a storyteller, spurring additional collections such as “13 Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey” and “13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey.”

Among Windham’s honors and awards are her induction into the Ala-bama Academy of Honor, having been nominated by fellow Alabamian and novelist Harper Lee, and the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s Citizen of the Year.

UWA choral director Willie Williams will lead the music for the event.

The birthday celebration is open to the public. A book signing by both authors will follow. For more information, call the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at (205) 652-3828.

UWA celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2010. Founded in February 1835, the school is currently home to more than 5,000 students from around the world.