CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Several authors have been born and raised in the Mountain State, and a new poll has revealed which literary mind of the past is the state’s favorite.
Researchers from StoicQuotes.com surveyed 3,000 respondents to learn more about each state’s favorite and “most-cherished” late, great authors. The survey did not include authors who are still living, such as West Virginia’s own Homer Hickam, Stephen Coonts, Carlene Thompson or Jennifer L. Armentrout, to name a few.
According to the study, West Virginia’s favorite homegrown author is Pearl S. Buck, best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Good Earth.”
Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia June 26, 1892. She also became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her parents were missionaries who moved to China when she was only four months old.
After returning to the United States to pursue her education, she returned to China to serve as a missionary, but later moved back to the US and continued her writing career while becoming an activist for women’s rights and racial equality. Buck died of lung cancer in Vermont in March 1973.
According to the study, the West Virginia author who came in at second-favorite is Breece D’J Pancake, a short story writer who was born in South Charleston, West Virginia, in 1952. He grew up in the Milton area, and studied at West Virginia Wesleyan college before transferring to Marshall University. He later studied creative writing as a graduate student at the University of Virginia.
Pancake published six short stories that mostly appeared in the Atlantic magazine, with his first piece “Trilobites” appearing in the magzine in 1977, according to the Short Story Project. According to his Pancake died by suicide in Virginia in April 1979 at the age of 26. According to his Wikipedia page the online magazine “Study Breaks” once referred to Pancake as “the greatest author you’ve never heard of.”
The study says Louise McNeill (Pease) came in as the third-favorite West Virginian author. Born in Buckeye, West Virginia, in Pocahontas County in 1911, McNeill was a poet, essayist and Appalachian historian, as well as an English and history teacher. Her career began as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, according to West Virginia University.
McNeill later went on to teach at Potomac State College, Fairmont State College and WVU. She was named West Virginia’s poet laureate by then-governor Jay Rockefeller in 1979, and held the title until her death in June 1993.