KNOXVILLE, TN – Popular Appalachian author and New York Times best-seller Sharyn McCrumb will be at the East Tennessee History Center on October 10, 2017 as part of a launch tour for her new book, The Unquiet Grave. Set in 19th century West Virginia, McCrumb’s novel is based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history — the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.
McCrumb uses genealogical research and historical documents to uncover the complex characters and details behind the 1897 death of Zona Heaster in Greenbrier, West Virginia, a story well known to American folklorists. Heaster, a beautiful and willful 24 year-old, marries the town blacksmith and moves to a farm twenty miles from her family, only to die several weeks later of complications from a fall. Zona’s mother claims she was visited by the ghost of her daughter, who came to tell her that she had been murdered. The mother is determined to seek justice for her daughter. An autopsy is conducted that supports her claims and a trial follows. Through The Unquiet Grave Sharyn McCrumb brings to life the interesting characters, the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner and former slave owner; and the mother of the murdered woman, who relentlessly sticks to her ghost story—all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century.
The October 10 event at the East Tennessee History Center begins with a light reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a lecture and book signing 7:00 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.
McCrumb, who was named a “Virginia Woman of History” in 2008 for Achievement in Literature, received the 2011 Perry F. Kendig Award for Achievement in Literary Arts from the Blue Ridge Arts Council of southwest Virginia. McCrumb’s many honors include: Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award; the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society; the Audie Award for Best Recorded Book; AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chaffin Award for Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2005 she was honored as the Writer of the Year at Emory & Henry College.
About the ETHS
Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society is widely acknowledged as one of the most active history organizations in the state and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in programming and education. For 183 years the East Tennessee Historical Society has been helping East Tennesseans hold on to our unique heritage—recording the events, collecting the artifacts, and saving the stories that comprise the history we all share.
About Friends of the Knox County Public Library
Friends of the Knox County Public Library is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster a love of libraries, books and reading in the Knox County area. The organization raises funds to sponsor community outreach programs, represent the interests of Knox County library patrons, and support a variety of services offered by the local library system that would otherwise not be available due to budget or staff restrictions.
The free event is presented by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Friends of the Knox County Public Library. The reception begins at 6:30 p.m., with the presentation at 7:00 p.m., followed by a book signing. The East Tennessee History Center is located at 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville. Ms. McCrumb will be signing books following her lecture. For more information on the lecture, exhibitions, or museum hours, call 865-215-8824 or visit the website at www.EastTNHistory.org.