Words and Music

In stories that reshaped the landscape of modern fiction, literary icons from the Hills—or this “postage stamp of native soil” as Nobel-laureate William Faulkner referred to it—helped define contemporary writing in America. Faulkner was born in New Albany and spent most of his adult life in Oxford, which today has become a mecca of southern writing. Discover more about Faulkner’s origins at the Union County Heritage Museum and Faulkner Gardens in New Albany.

Oxford has more recently been home to Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, Pulitzer-prize winner Donna Tartt and others, including best-selling author John Grisham. Grisham also spent part of his early career in DeSoto County, Starkville and Oxford. His work is featured in a dedicated area at the Mississippi State University Library. In nearby Columbus, the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center preserves the heritage of one of America’s most-beloved playwrights, who wrote both “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie”.

The stacks of great literature arising from the Mississippi Hills are rivaled only by the volume of great music. Elvis Presley and Tammy Wynette became musical icons as the King of Rock’n’Roll and the First Lady of Country Music. West Point’s Chester A. Burnett became blues legend Howlin’ Wolf, who is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. Holly Springs’ R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough birthed their own musical creation called Hill Country Blues. Visitors can readily learn more about Hills’ music at places like the Elvis Birthplace in Tupelo, the Howlin’ Wolf Museum in West Point and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss.