Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably best known by young readers for her books about Jeffery and other Ghosts. Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery (1964) written with Margaret Gillis Figh, was her first book about Jeffery and other ghosts. Other titles include Jeffery Introduces Thirteen More Southern Ghosts (1971), Thirteen Georgia Ghosts and Jeffery (1973), Thirteen Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffery (1974), Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffery (1976), and Jeffery's Latest Thirteen: More Alabama Ghosts (1982). In the words of Kathryn Tucker Windham, "My desire is to preserve our Southern ghost tales-the true ones-before they are lost." She certainly seems to have satisfied that desire.
Photo courtesy of Rickey Yanaura
Kathryn was born in Thomasville, Alabama in 1918 to James Wilson and Helen Tabb Wilson. She had an early fascination with photography and has often told the story of waiting in line for hours to get a free Brownie camera when she was twelve-years old. She claims that many of her best photographs were taken with that camera. While still in high school, she worked as a movie reviewer for her cousin Earl's newspaper, The Thomasville Times. After earning an A.B. degree from Huntingdon College in 1939, she was hired by the Alabama Journal, Montgomery in 1940 to be a police reporter. She also worked for the Birmingham News as a reported and photographer (1944-1946) and the Selma Times-Journal (1960-1973) as reporter, city editor, state editor, and associate editor. Odd-Egg Editor (1990) is her "memoir of life as a 'lady editor' in an old-style Southern newsroom."
Kathryn Windham is also a renowned historian. These titles are evidence of this: Treasured Alabama Recipes (1964), Exploring Alabama (1969), Treasured Tennessee Recipes (1972), Treasured Georgia Recipes (1973), Alabama: One Big Front Porch (1975), Southern Cooking to Remember (1978), Count Those Buzzards" Stamp Those Grey Mules (1982), and out of print title, A Serigamy of Stories (1988). (Serigamy is a made-up word which means "a whole-lot, . . .a heap of, a goodly number").
As interesting as these titles may seem, you really haven't experienced Kathryn Tucker Windham's greatest gift until you seen or heard her in action as a story-teller. She is often heard at story-telling events, historical meetings, and most significantly, in classrooms. She is a favorite on Alabama Public Television and National Public Radio. Her gifts have been recorded in both video (including 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery, A Sampling of Southern Superstitions, and Cooking up Stories) and audio (including Alabama Folktales, Jeffery- Five volumes of ghost stories, Recollections-Five tapes of public radio stories). Kathryn Windham is in her very best story-telling fashion when becomes Julia Tutwiler in her one-woman show My Name is Julia, based on her book by the same name. The most recent audio titles (available in May) are Grits and A Barbershop Education from the Southern Recollection Series.
Listeners Connect with Alabama Through Radio Storytellers
Special People-Kathryn Tucker Windham
Kathryn Tucker Windham - Gale Literary Databases
All Things Southern: An Interview with Kathryn Tucker Windham, First Draft, Journal of the Alabama Writer's Forum, Fall 1998
Let Her Own Works Praise Her. Julia Tutwiler Brent Davis, Producer. Video may be purchased from the Center for Public Television, University of Alabama - Free downloadable guide
Submitted to Gritsonline By Ouida W. Myers March 5, 2001
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