Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair in tiny Cowan, Tennessee. This is the land of poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren, poet Allen Tate, and poet and magazine editor John Crowe Ransom, not to mention folk hero and frontiersman Davy Crockett.
Warren, of course, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his novel All the King’s Men, thought to be inspired by the life of the populist governor of Louisiana, Huey P. Long. Warren taught at Vanderbilt University and was one of a dozen writers who became known as the Southern Agrarians, along with Tate and Ransom.
The Agrarians saw industrialization as anathema, fearing the loss of Southern identity and culture. They wrote of the importance of traditional agrarian roots in a collection of essays published as I’ll Take My Stand; The South and the Agrarian Tradition.
Tate’s most famous poem, Ode to the Confederate Dead, and a biography of Stonewall Jackson, were both published in 1928. The following year he published a biography of Jefferson Davis.
Ransom was editor of a short-lived magazine called The Fugitive, which published non-traditionalist poets, mostly from the south.
Davy Crockett was more of a hunter and trapper than a writer, and, of course, he came along a lot earlier than the Agrarians, but he did write an autobiography in which he told about running away from home to avoid a whipping by his father. He wandered Tennessee for three years, and when he returned to his family he was welcomed. Later he served in Congress, where he stood out to say the least. Then he went to Texas and stayed over at a little mission called The Alamo.
Cowan, Tennessee, is a little bit northwest of Chattanooga, an over the state line where Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee come together. The video above features Tom McGee, owner of The Book Brake in Cowan, and founder of the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair. We’re looking forward to seeing many of our fellow bookseller friends in Cowan.