Catherine Venable Moore — Writer & Producer

Cedar Grove Teaser

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

“An autobiography that begins with one’s birth begins too late, in the middle of the story, sometimes at the end.” So begins “Addie,” the autobiography of acclaimed writer Mary Lee Settle. The National Book Award winner chose to tell her own story through the voice of her larger-than-life grandmother, Addie Lee Tompkins. Settle also wrote a series of five obsessively researched historical novels set in her ancestral home of Cedar Grove, West Virginia. Known collectively as The Beulah Quintet, the novels trace the area’s history over 400 years, from Cromwell’s England all the way to the late 20th century. Like other small towns in the Upper Kanawha Valley, present day Cedar Grove struggles with depopulation, addiction, and drug-related crime. Producer Catherine Moore spent a year talking to the women who live in the town today about their memories and experiences. In this piece, Mary Lee Settle talks about her work in archival interviews, backed up by the voices of the women who now live in the community she spent her life writing about. 


* The voices in this piece belong to: Paula Clendenin, Jean Lamb, Lynette Hudnall, Peggy Coleman, Katherine Atwater, and Shirley Ellis Stennet, all of whom live or grew up in Cedar Grove. You’ll also hear the musical stylings of Patty Ellis Thurmon and the St. Paul Men’s Chorus out of St. Albans, WV.

* Archival interviews of Mary Lee Settle were available thanks to:
– “In Their Own Country,” produced by Kate Long in 2002. The Gabriel Award-winning series highlights 14 celebrated West Virginia writers.
– “Tell It On The Mountain,” hosted by poet Nikki Giovanni and produced in the mid-90′s by Maxine Kenny at WMMT, the public radio station of Appalshop in Whitesburg, K.y. The series featured women writers who call the southern Appalachian Mountains home.
– “The Author,” hosted by Bill Drennan in 1991 for the WV Library Commission.
– “The Author,” hosted by Gordon Simmons in 2003 for the WV Library Commission.
– Kay Bonetti’s 1982 interview with Mary Lee Settle for the American Prose Audio Library.

* This piece is made possible by funding from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the support of Allegheny Mountain Radio/Pocahontas Communications Cooperative.

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