Last Mississippian to be honored on state writers trail penned archetypal Southern Civil War novel
Posted at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, November 21, 2022
The newest Mississippi Writers Trail marker was unveiled in Como last Saturday and is located at 104 Main Street.
The final marker commemorates the artistic contributions of novelist and playwright Stark Young, who was born in Como on October 11, 1881. His father, Alfred Alexander Young, was a physician. His mother, Mary Clark Starks, was a direct descendant of the McGehees, an old family of planters; she died when he was nine.
Shortly after her death, Young was sent to live at the McGehee Plantation in Senatobia
Young entered the University of Mississippi at age 15 and graduated from that institution in 1901. He completed his master’s degree at Columbia University in New York in 1902.
While teaching at various colleges throughout his career, Stark produced artistic works such as literary translation, poetry, drama, literature, criticism, and painting. He published his first volume of poetry The Blind Man at the Window and Other Poems in 1906.
In 1926, Stark Young wrote his first novel “Heaven Trees”. In 1930, Young contributed to the agrarian manifesto, “I’ll Take My Stand”. He was one of 12 Southern Writers, a group that included Allen Tate, known as Southern Agrarians.
Young drew on the traditions of his Southern upbringing. He wrote essays, journalistic articles and collections of stories that drew on these sources. He has also published four novels dealing with southern themes.
“So Red the Rose” (1934), often called Young’s best novel, enjoyed a brief period of popularity as an archetypal Southern Civil War novel and dealt with the aftermath of the war.
In 1935, her novel was adapted into a film of the same name directed by King Vidor and starring Margaret Sullavan. Described by its author as a novel of affections, the book is still in press. The phenomenal successes of Gone with the Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell and its 1939 film adaptation relegated Young’s book to the background.
The Mississippi Writers Trail honors the state’s most acclaimed and influential writers through a series of historical markers that recognize the importance of place in an author’s life while educating the public about history. and the legacy of Mississippi writers.
Otis Sanford, a longtime Como native and longtime Memphis journalist, participated in the unveiling ceremony on Saturday, expressing his appreciation for Young’s work.
“Stark Young was an exceptional writer and educator. He certainly put Como on the map during his illustrious career,” Sanford said. “I remember reading about him as a child and was thrilled to be part of the unveiling of a marker recognizing his accomplishments.”
Young was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, as well as the New York University Hall of Fame. He received the Creative Arts Medallion from Brandeis University and the Distinguished Career Award from the Southeastern Theater Conference. In addition, he received the Order of the Crown of Italy for a series of lectures on American theater. He gave them in Italian as a Westinghouse lecturer in Italy.
He served on the board of trustees of New York University and served as a theater critic for The New York Times.
Young suffered a stroke in May 1959 and died four years later. He was buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Como.