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The Romantic Spirit of Inglis Fletcher

Friday from the Archives: “The Land Always Calls to Its Own”: The Inglis Fletcher Papers”
by Maurice C. York from NCLR 1993.

NCLR congratulates this year’s recipients of awards from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Society! This year’s award recipients all have incredible bodies of work to date and we look forward to how they will continue to add to North Carolina’s long list of literature.

The first class of awards included such luminaries as Paul Green, Frank Borden Hanes, Hugh F. Rankin, and Inglis Fletcher. While NCLR has published numerous articles about Green, the other writers are not as well covered (Rankin seems to have published mostly history, rather then literature). There is one article about Fletcher, who served as President of “Lit&Hist” in 1953, in our 1993 issue.

For those readers unfamiliar with Fletcher and her work, “Inglis Fletcher’s 12 Carolina Series novels remain her most lasting legacy. Published between 1940 and 1964, they have collectively sold tens of millions of copies and have been translated into eight languages.” She was a philanthropist and world-traveler, in addition to serving her state and community in Eastern North Carolina.

After her voyage to Africa in 1928 “Fletcher launched her writing career. Asia magazine in 1930 published her article about the Ma-Nganja tribe. The White Leopard, a children’s book that began as a collection of short stories, was published by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1931, and it achieved considerable success. A second Bobbs-Merrill novel, Red Jasmine, based upon the lives of the ruling class in Nyasaland, hit bookstores the following year.”

York, serving at the time of writing as the North Carolina Librarian at Joyner Library (ECU), drew extensively from the Inglis Fletcher Papers collection housed there. He wrote, “Fletcher’s strongest qualities – creativity, love of romance, persistence, and respect for historical accuracy – are clearly reflected in her papers. Her romantic spirit leaps from varied works written throughout her career.”

York commented, “Especially in her later years, she was a proud preserver of North Carolina history. And her novels, despite their lack of literary recognition, constitute a significant contribution to North Carolina literature and history.” Fletcher was also one of the first inductees to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996, twenty-seven years after she passed away.

Read the entire essay by ordering it for your collection. And remember that articles submitted on forgotten or neglected authors are eligible for the John Ehle prize!