Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston, SC

Sojourns in Charleston with Jennie Holton Fant, Thurs., Mar. 21, 5:30 pm

Join us Thurs., Mar. 21, 5:30 pm as Jennie Holton Fant will be here to discuss Sojourns in Charleston: South Carolina 1865-1947 (University of South Carolina Press, hb., 384 pp., $35).

Charleston is one of the most intriguing of American cities, a unique combination of quaint streets, historic architecture, picturesque gardens, and age-old tradition, embroidered with a vivid cultural, literary, and social history. It is a city of contrasts and controversy as well. To trace a documentary history of Charleston from the postbellum era into the twentieth century is to encounter an ever-shifting but consistently alluring landscape. In this collection, ranging from 1865 to 1947, correspondents, travelers, tourists, and other visitors describe all aspects of the city as they encounter it.

Sojourns in Charleston begins after the Civil War, when northern journalists flocked south to report on the “city of desolation” and ruin, continues through Reconstruction, and then moves into the era when national magazine writers began to promote the region as a paradise. From there twentieth-century accounts document a wide range of topics, from the living conditions of African Americans to the creation of cultural institutions that supported preservation and tourism. The most recognizable of the writers include author Owen Wister, novelist William Dean Howells, artist Norman Rockwell, Boston poet Amy Lowell, novelist and Zionist leader Ludwig Lewisohn, poet May Sarton, novelist Glenway Wescott on British author Somerset Maugham in the lowcountry, and French philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir. Their varied viewpoints help weave a beautiful tapestry of narratives that reveal the fascinating and evocative history that make Charleston the captivating city it is today.

Jennie Holton Fant is a writer, editor, and librarian who lived in Charleston before working for a decade at Duke University Libraries. She is the editor of The Travelers’ Charleston: Accounts of Charleston and the Lowcountry, South Carolina, 1666-1861.


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