Title: Oral History Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976. Interview G-0006.
Interviewer: Conway, Mimi
Interviewee: Arnow, Harriette
Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs Women writers--Southern States
Abstract: Harriette Arnow is perhaps best known as the writer of numerous historical novels that dramatize the lives of Appalachian people. These works include
The Dollmaker, Hunter’s Horn, and Seedtime on the Cumberland. In this life history interview, Arnow offers a vivid overview of her family heritage, reaching back to the Revolutionary Era. Born in 1908 in Wayne County, Kentucky, Arnow's upbringing as she describes it was representative of family relationships in the Appalachian region. Born into a family of five daughters and one son, Arnow describes the role of southern gender norms in her life and emphasizes her experiences in school. Especially illuminating is Arnow's description of her college days, first at Berea and then later at the University of Louisville. In her early twenties, Arnow worked as a schoolteacher, and briefly as a principal, in small, rural communities. By the 1930s, however, she began to pursue writing. Many of her published works were drawn from her experiences growing up in the South. Other revealing aspects of Arnow's life covered in this interview include her decision not to marry until she was in her thirties, her experiences in balancing work and family, her views on labor politics in the 1930s, and her reaction to critiques of her writing as both "transcendentalist" and "feminist."