3 On The Road: Lulah Ragsdale in Brookhaven
BROOKHAVEN, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Creative writing is one of the subjects they teach at the Mississippi School of the Arts.
Interestingly enough, one of Mississippi's most productive writers of the late 19th and early 20th century once lived down the street from the school. She taught at the former Whitworth College, after she tried her hand in New York City.
The house where she lived is now known as the old Hardy House. It has been located in Brookhaven for a long time and John Lynch is in the process of restoring it. It's said to be one of those old Victorian homes that seems to have a soul. A big part of its history comes from it being where storyteller, writer and poet Lulah Ragsdale once lived.
"She lived in Brookhaven. She wrote several books. She wrote poems. She moved to New York, she tried being like an actress. But it didn't work out very well," said Brookhaven librarian Billie Smith.
One thing that did work for Ragsdule during her New York days was her book, "Miss Dulcie from Dixie."
It became the first book written by a Mississippian to become a movie, it was turned into a silent film in 1919. It's a true 'love wins out over riches after several misunderstandings' kind of story.
Ragsdale's most known publication, a verse about points of view and being honest to one's self, comes from her book of poetry "If I See Green."
Nearly a dozen years ago, the Hardy House was still furnished and it looked like a movie set. One of the discoveries the then-new owners made were hundreds of hand-written pages of manuscripts; poems and books and plays. Some of the original typed manuscripts of Lulah Ragsdale's printed works were also still in the home. "The Lynched Man's Mother Prays" is a piece of her work that will always be remembered because it shows that she was much more prolific than her published bibliography indicates.
"I don't think she got as much credit as she deserves," Smith said.
"We all see "success" differently. For most people it's putting money in the bank. For writers it may be putting it down on paper for others to see no matter the monetary success. Then there are those that just write it down to free it from their souls and get it out. It all depends on how you look at it," Walt Grayson said.
"And so what of we see blue and they see green?" he added.
Lulah Ragsdale died in the 1950s and is buried in Brookhaven.
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