Olden Times Revisited: W. L. Clayton's Pen Pictures by W. L. Clayton edited by Minrose Gwin "If I had the pen of a ready writer,"Clayton wrote, "enabling me to give a pen-picture of the appearance of the virgin forests in these olden times, covered with the upstretching trees, with occasional vines entwining them from top to bottom, loaded with wild grapes or luscious muscadines, and the plains and hillsides waving with beautiful wild flowers, it would read like a fairy tale." Olden times take on a nostalgic glow in these "pen pictures" of early days in Northeast Mississippi. The chivalry, the tall tales, the Indian lore, the social customs, and the local characters portrayed here provide intimate descriptions of how people lived in Lee and Itawamba counties during antebellum times and during Reconstruction. Washington Lafayette Clayton reflected over such scenes of his life and wrote these pen pictures over a century ago as reminiscences of better times. In sixty-five articles originally published in the Tupelo Journal in 1905 and 1906, he recorded the life of the Southern frontier of 1840 to the 1860s. These records, preserved here in one volume, are valuable resources for historians, for descendants of Mississippi pioneers, and for those who wish to perceive the nature of simpler times. Minrose Gwin is an English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a great-granddaughter of Washington Lafayette Clayton.
Minrose Gwin is the author of three novels: The Queen of Palmyra, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award; Promise, finalist for the Willie Morris Award in Southern Literature; and The Accidentals. In her memoir, Wishing for Snow, she writes about the convergence of poetry and psychosis in her mother's life. Wearing another hat, she has written four books of literary and cultural criticism and history, most recently Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement, and coedited The Literature of the American South, a Norton anthology. Minrose began her career as a newspaper reporter. Since then, she has taught as a professor at universities across the country, most recently the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Like the characters in Promise, she grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi.