Author: Clifton W. Potter

a retired professor of history at the University of Lynchburg in Lynchburg, Virginia

Sheldon Vanauken (1914–1996)

Sheldon Vanauken was a poet and novelist best known for his memoir A Severe Mercy (1977), about converting to Christianity and his wife’s unexpected death at age forty. A less famous sequel, Under the Mercy, was published, to less acclaim, in 1985.


Murrell Edmunds (1898–1981)

Murrell Edmunds was a poet, novelist, and playwright best known for his biting irony and his strident defense of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, when legislation in Virginia and throughout the South stripped blacks of many basic civil rights. An Army veteran, Edmunds gave up a law practice to write full-time, publishing books that were highly conventional formally but often controversial in their subject matter. He spent much of his career in New Orleans, Louisiana, away from the political judgments of Virginia, and there published one of his best works, Moon of My Delight (1960), a three-act play on race relations in the South following the American Civil War (1861–1865). Edmunds died in New Orleans in 1981.


Abe Craddock Edmunds (1899–1959)

Abe Craddock Edmunds published to critical acclaim a number of long poems, often on historical themes, but has since been largely forgotten. After attending Randolph-Macon College and then earning a graduate degree at the University of Virginia, Edmunds retreated to a log cabin in his native Halifax County, where he began to write. He published a long poem that focused on the Italian Renaissance and Michelangelo and another long poem on the perspectives of five men during World War I (1914–1918). Later poems dealt with more traditional themes, although he composed six poems on the subject of the mythical Camelot. Edmunds died unexpectedly at his home in 1959.