Lee Smith visits Chatham Hall as Writer in Residence 2017

Lee Smith visits Chatham Hall as Writer in Residence 2017

— by Chatham Hall  | 

This past week, celebrated author Lee Smith, visited Chatham all as the 2017 Writer in Residence. Over her two-day, mid-week visit, Mrs. Smith led a writers workshop open to interested members of the community, delivered a keynote address, and met with English classes to discuss her works. In her keynote address, Smith was quick to point out that she herself was the “product of an all-girls education,” and captivated the gathered audience with her humor and warm personality as she read excerpts from her most recent work, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life. Students gathered afterwards to speak personally with Mrs. Smith and have their copies of her books signed.

Mrs. Smith is a New York Times Bestselling author known for her stirring depictions of daily life in the rural south. Her works to date include thirteen novels and four short story collections, making her recent memoir another jewel to join the collection of her professional work. Speaking with creative writing students during her visit, Smith shared that writing has always been second nature to her. She was a voracious reader as a young girl, and the first stories she wrote as a child often featured her favorite literary figures being joined by an adventurous young girl named, not surprisingly, Lee Smith.

Smith is no stranger to working with young writers, having been a creative writing professor at the University of North Carolina and Duke University for a number of years. She has also been featured as the Writer in Residence at N.C. State University, and spent nearly 30 years leading adult education classes at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. Remarking on her visit, English Department Chair, Mary Edmonds, said, “We were so lucky to have Lee Smith with us!  She was gracious, funny, and fully engaged with our school community.  In our writing workshop, Lee took each student's work seriously; she was incredibly encouraging.  Her reading from Dimestore elicited laughter and conversation; her work with the English II and English III classes was a treat.”

In recognition of her many contributions to the school, Chatham Hall seeks to endow the Writer in Residence Program to name it in honor of Claudia Emerson ’75 who twice served as the Writer In Residence. A native of Chatham, Claudia Emerson later served as Dean and English teacher at her alma mater. She was recognized as the Poet Laureate of Virginia and was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. Claudia Emerson passed away December 4, 2014 and would have celebrated her 40th Reunion in May 2015.


Chatham Hall invites gifts to the fund. To make a donation please contact the Advancement Office, Attn: Claudia Emerson Writer in Residence Fund, 800 Chatham Hall Circle, Chatham, VA 24531. You may also contact Christine Knight, Director of Advancement, at 434-432-5549.