For the Wheeling Reads Festival, 2023, we offered a “literary pub crawl” to establishments in Centre Market, accompanied by four historic behemoths of local literature (Rebecca Harding Davis, J. McHenry Jones, Davis Grubb, and James Wright-- as interpreted by Christina Fisanick, Ron Scott, Jr., and Vince Marshall) who told us all about their myriad accomplishments, before we ducked inside the pubs for a pint. Now, for those who missed the summer tour, we are offering a virtual winter Literary Pub Crawl--only without the pubs--but with the same group of amazing writers.
Dr. Christina Fisanick is the author or editor of more than 30 books and dozens of articles, essays, and poems, including two memoirs: Two-Week Wait: Motherhood Lost and Found (2014) and The Optimistic Food Addict (2016). Although she focuses primarily on nonfiction, especially Wheeling history, she is currently working on an historic novel which takes place in Moundsville during the years immediately following WWII. In addition, Christina is an English professor and an internationally recognized scholar in the teaching of digital storytelling, a genre which allows her to merge her passions for art and writing. She lives in Wheeling with her son and two cats. Find out more at her website: christinafisanick.com. [This evening, Christina will be channeling Rebecca Harding Davis.]
Originally from Steubenville, Vincent Marshall has called Wheeling home for the past 17 years. The day job provides the freedom to have fun with projects like this, and to unapologetically spoil the dogs. Vince performed for OCPL’s WWI podcast: From Camp Lee to The Great War: The Letters of Lester Scott and Charles Riggle, World War I soldiers from Wheeling as the voice of Charles Riggle. He also appeared at People’s University “Fairy Tales for Grown Ups” as the teller of “The Tale of The Ogre.” For the Francis Pier Pint Historic Brew Off II, Vince portrayed a memorable rapping Yost (WV Prohibition) Law. He has also performed extensively on stage, most recently portraying seven characters in Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre’s production of Marie Jones’ 2-man whirlwind play “Stones in His Pockets.” [This evening, Vincent is channeling James Wright and Davis Grubb].
Ron Scott, Jr. is Program Director, Cultural Diversity & Community Outreach at the YWCA in Wheeling. He was the voice of Harry H. Jones, Wheeling’s only African American Attorney in 1936 for the OCPL’s exhibit, Wheeling’s 20th Man. Ron has also presented several Lunch With Books programs for the Library, including a History of Black Music in America. [This evening, Ron is channeling James McHenry Jones].
Born in Washington, Pa, Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910) lived in Wheeling from the age of five. As a teen-ager, she attended Washington Female Seminary, where she was graduated valedictorian in 1848. As a writer, she was a pioneer in literary realism, best known for her 1861 story, Life in the Iron Mills, which was published anonymously in The Atlantic Monthly. It drew worldwide attention to the bleak lives of industrial workers in American mills and factories. (OCPL)
James Arlington Wright (1917-1980) was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. He attended Kenyon College and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Washington. The poverty and human suffering Wright witnessed as a child profoundly influenced his writing and he used his poetry as a mode to discuss his political and social concerns. Wright was elected a fellow of the Academy of American Poets in 1971, and his Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press) received the 1972 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. (poets.org)
Davis Grubb (1919–1980) was a short-story writer and novelist. Born in Moundsville, West Virginia, he moved to New York City in 1940 to be a writer. His stories were published in magazines such as Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, and Woman’s Home Companion. The Night of the Hunter, the first of his ten novels, was an instant bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award. Some of his short stories were adapted for television on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery; his novel Fools’ Parade was the basis for a 1971 film starring James Stewart. (Vintage reprint of Night of the Hunter)
James McHenry Jones (1858-1909) was one of West Virginia’s most prominent African-American educators and community leaders. Born in Gallipolis, Ohio, James attended the previously all-white Pomeroy High School. Following his graduation in 1882, Jones became principal of Lincoln school in Wheeling. He later was named president of the West Virginia Colored Institute. His novel Hearts of Gold was published in 1896. Among the problems facing African-Americans discussed in the novel were the rise of black education, press, fraternal organizations, lynching, and convict labor. (Joe Laker)