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Thomas A. Williams Papers, 1977

Manuscript Collection #1009

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Thomas A. Williams Papers
Creator: Williams, Thomas A.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: One draft copy (with edits by the author) of Tales of the Tobacco Country by Thomas A. Williams.
Extent: 0.04 Cubic feet, 1 box, 1 item, manuscript draft

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

August 27, 2004, 1 item, 0.04 cubic feet; One draft copy (with edits by the author) of Tales of the Tobacco Country by Thomas A. Williams.. Donor: Anonymous

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

Thomas A. Williams Papers (#1009), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Anonymous gift

Processing Information

  • Processed by James Parker, 2007

  • Processed by Dale Sauter, 2011

  • Encoded by Lindsay Flood, March 28, 2008

Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Before becoming a writer, Thomas A. Williams taught literature in the University of North Carolina System. During his teaching career, he published in scholarly journals, but soon decided he was more interested in simply writing. With the decision to “branch out”, he started sending his articles out to publishers, and sold his first article, "How to Teach about Poetry" to Teacher's Scholastic magazine. Williams also soon had his first book, Mallarmé and the Language of Mysticism, published by the University of Georgia Press. After this, he continued to send out his material to publishers, and soon managed to sell an article to Esquire magazine that was also highlighted on the front cover, giving Williams increased public exposure.

Williams also had a desire to try editing and publishing his own books and periodicals. In 1979, he purchased a weekly newspaper and subsequently increased circulation by 400%. Williams then sold this newspaper, and founded and published numerous North Carolina-related magazines, including Tar Heel: The Magazine of North Carolina, The New East magazine, NC East Magazine and Washington Magazine. He also published Welcome to Wilmington, a newcomer guide, and the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Guide.

Williams next started Venture Press, a home-based book publishing company, designed to publish his own books. This endeavor proved successful for him. This success included his publications How to Make $100,000 a Year in Desktop Publishing and How to Publish Your Poetry, which both became Writers Digest Book Club selections. Williams later expanded Venture Press into Williams & Company, Publishers, and began to publish books by other writers as well. From his career experiences, Williams was able to learn all perspectives of the publishing business, and currently is still in active in this profession.


Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

In Tales of the Tobacco Country, Williams explores tobacco and its effect on the American way of life, specifically how it shaped the people and culture in tobacco growing areas. For his publication, he compiled his stories from three different sources. These include stories recorded in the field by staff of the East Carolina University Folklore Archive, accounts collected by the author himself and information obtained from early books documenting the tobacco culture. Williams also consulted with Doug McMillan and Paul Dowell, both curators at the ECU Folklore Archive. This archive is now known as the Karen Baldwin Folklore Archive, in memory of the late ECU Folklore professor, and is housed in the Special Collections Department, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.

Topics covered in Williams’ publication include description of ghost stories set in rural, tobacco country of North Carolina, an overview of the history of tobacco’s use for medicinal purposes, spanning the early 16th century through World War I era, a synopsis of Charles Dickens' American Notes (1842), which recounts Dickens' visit to the United States in 1842 and his experiences with Americans, and in particular, Dickens' surprise at the practice of tobacco chewing by Americans of all socio-economic statuses. Also featured are 16th through early 20th century perspectives of tobacco as portrayed in poetry, a summary of a young Patrick Henry (1736-1799), quotations by David Lloyd George, Moncure Daniel Conway and Isaac Winton. Another chapter discusses raccoons, including descriptions by John Lawson of hunting them and recipes for cooking them. Also found in the publications is an analysis of Ebenezer Cooke's book Sot-Weed Factor, or, A Voyage to Maryland. A Satyr in which is described the Laws, Government, Courts and Constitution of the Country; and also the Buildings, Feasts, Frolics, Entertainments and Drunken Humours of the Inhabitants of the part of America (1708), a book in which Cooke recounts his experiences in the English colonies during the late 17th century.

Related Collections Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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