Archive for the ‘Joel Chandler Harris’ Category

The Start of the Wren’s Nests’ Holidays are going Great!!

Written on December 13, 2014 at 9:52 am, by Melissa Swindell

Tis the season… We are Celebrating Ladies and Gentleman, a lot!


This week we have taken time to acknowledge not only the holiday season but also the birthday of Joel Chandler Harris. Last Sunday we held our annual Victorian Holiday Party. The home was decorated in holiday grandeur. “Children of all ages were captivated by our storytellers throughout the day.” And certainly what’s a party without music? Our featured harpist, Kimberly Walker of the Atlanta Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, and esteemed carolers from the Gate City School of Excellence set the tone by filling the house with songs of the season.


Certainly, we cannot celebrate in the month of December without saying Happy Birthday to Joel Chandler Harris! December 9th marked Harris’169th birthday, and yes indeed there was birthday cake! Guests and friends gathered around the cake as Harris’ great-great-granddaughter, Annette Shakespeare gave words of cheer and good tidings for the occasion. Happy Birthday rang loud amongst the crowd as we approached one of the most favored portions of our annual party.


Written on July 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm, by Jessie

The Second Annual Vouched Birthday Party was a smashing success!


VouchedATL celebrated its second birthday with the return of the Very Vouched Birthday on Thursday, July 18th at The Goat Farm Arts Center.

Once again, the evening served as a fundraiser for the Wren’s Nest KIPP Scribes writing program. A great number of Atlanta’s literary champions gathered for an evening to read the work of the students who have benefitted from the program. In addition to these readings, attendees heard original works from authors Blake Butler and Matt Bell.

Several of our middle school authors were there with their families. As it turned out, all of the young authors who attended also happened to have their stories read out loud. Seeing the students watch their stories come alive on stage was an incredible experience.

The proceeds from the evening all go towards supporting the Scribes Program. We are so grateful to Laura Relyea of Vouched Books, the event’s supporters, and everyone who attended the party. Here’s a picture of our fancy merch table and a sampling of the books we’ve published through our Scribes Program and high school publishing company.





The preservationists are coming! The preservationists are coming!

Written on October 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm, by Jessie

With the museum’s 100th anniversary coming up in 2013, now is a great time to start talking about how to revitalize and restore Joel Chandler Harris’ home so we can kick it for the next 100 years. 2013 is going to be full of celebrations, fundraising, and amazing growth. There is already an exciting opportunity on the horizon that will kick off our centennial year.

The Georgia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-GA) is committed to improving built environments to make high-performance, healthy buildings available to everyone in Georgia.  On October 16th through October 18th, USGBC-GA will host an inaugural conference on southern historic preservation, sustainability, and energy efficiency here in Atlanta. The conference will bring together brilliant minds from across the nation to discuss how to restore and revitalize our city, community, economy, and quality of life.

One of the highlights of the conference is a case study of the Wren’s Nest. On the final day of the conference, there will be a charrette at the Wren’s Nest. Basically, a bunch of really smart historic preservationists and people interested in energy efficiency will gather for a tour and discussion on how to preserve and restore the house for generations to come in the most green way possible. We are very excited about the chance to be showcased in this way. It’s about time more people fell in love with this beautiful old museum and did something about it.

In preparation for the conference, the folks over at SouthFace came over and did an inspection last week. Boy, did they get a kick out of the spaces in the floor where you can see straight through to the basement. They may or may not have also discovered one ton of bricks (yes, that’s correct) that’s been looming in the attic over poor Sue’s desk for who knows how long. Thanks to SouthFace, the USGBC-GA has some great information for the conference, and we know that we need to move the bricks, or just move Sue.

KIPP Scribes Book Launch

Written on September 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm, by Jessie

We don’t mean to brag, but it’s safe to say that our KIPP Scribes book launch was a smashing success.  There is nothing quite like seeing these students hold their books for the very first time, or hearing them read their stories to an enraptured audience. Little did we know, the Scribes are not only writers; they are also phenomenal readers. Check out a few preview pictures, thanks to the lovely Erin Sintos of Tin Can Photography, who captured the day through her lens.

If you weren’t able to attend the party, do not lament! You can buy your very own copy in the Wren’s Nest shop. Our new Wren’s Nest Publishing Company high school literary journal is also available in our shop now.  It’s all so exciting. Just so exciting.

Our student authors and editors are fancy

Written on August 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm, by Jessie

Hear ye! Hear ye! Books are a-brewin’!

The Decatur Book Festival is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time for the launch of our new KIPP Scribes book and Wren’s Nest Publishing Company Literary Journal. Below are details about each of the book launch parties. You’ll come if you know what’s good for you!

This year, the KIPP Scribes program took a new spin. Instead of recording a true story from an important adult in each of their lives, the students wrote historical fiction stories based in Atlanta. The KIPP Scribes crafted the stories with the help of their mentors and will release their book, Read After Burning, at Decatur Book Festival on Sunday, September 2 from 2:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. at CORE Studio (133 Sycamore Street Decatur, GA 30030). The book launch will feature readings from the KIPP Scribes and their mentors, as well as a chance to purchase your own copy signed by the authors.


The Wren’s Nest Publishing Company’s sixth annual literary journal, Flyaways, comprised pieces by Atlanta-area high school students. On Saturday, September 1, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m at CORE Studio (133 Sycamore Street Decatur, GA 30030), the student editors and contributors and their friends and family members will join to mingle, congratulate each other, and exult in their accomplishments with lemonade, popsicles, games, and coloring. Pull out your inner child and come share in the revelry!

If you can’t come to our parties, go cry in corner, then show your support  another way :

Buy a copy of each book in our online bookstore. Books will be available for purchase on September 8th. Huzzah!

Tell someone about our writing programs. We will begin accepting mentors for next spring’s KIPP Scribes program in October.  Email Jessie at for more info. She likes getting emails out of left field.

PS: Please come visit us at the Decatur Book Festival. The Wren’s Nest booth is #612, on Clairmont right off Ponce across from the Old Courthouse. This year we’re sharing our booth with Vouched Atlanta. Come by and see us!

Unpublished Letter to the Editor of TIME

Written on June 1, 2011 at 10:45 am, by Lain Shakespeare

In April TIME Magazine ran a feature on slavery and the Civil War by noted journalist David Von Drehle. It was pretty good, but I took issue with a paragraph about Southern coping mechanisms during Reconstruction:

“But people were eager to forget. And so Americans both Southern and Northern flocked to minstrel shows and snapped up happy-slave stories by writers like Thomas Nelson Page and Joel Chandler Harris. White society was not ready to deal with the humanity and needs of freed slaves, and these entertainments assured them that there was no need to. Reconstruction was scorned as a fool’s errand, and Jim Crow laws were touted as sensible reforms to restore a harmonious land.”

As soon as I read the article I wrote and sent in a letter to the editor. They didn’t publish it, so here you go.

David Von Drehle truly grasped of the influence of storytelling in “150 Years After Fort Sumter: Why We’re Still Fighting the Civil War,” his piece about slavery’s role in the Civil War. That’s why it’s shocking he could so casually dismiss the gravity of Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus tales.

Harris’s depiction of plantation life is a far cry from “happy slaves, all faithful to a glorious lost cause,” as Von Drehle writes. The figure of Uncle Remus in particular is a subversive, developed character who tricks his audience—both the little white boy in the stories and the reader of the stories themselves—into witnessing nuanced lessons of cultural understanding and empathy. Fittingly, Uncle Remus introduced the world to Br’er Rabbit, one of literature’s greatest trickster heroes.

Harris first heard these stories while he grew up working amongst slaves on a Georgia plantation during the Civil War. Just a few years after the Jim Crow laws were enacted, he celebrated and preserved African-American culture and folklore that was widely derided and may have otherwise been lost. In doing so, he also satirized the very “plantation school” writers that Von Drehle lumps him in with.

If Von Drehle bothered to study the Uncle Remus tales, as I suspect he has not, I think he’d be delighted to find “Americanism at its best”—literature that tears down borders.

Lain Shakespeare
Executive Director
The Wren’s Nest House Museum
Historic Home of Joel Chandler Harris

For a more detailed look at this particular issue, take a look at “Everything You’ve Heard About Uncle Remus Is Wrong.”


Joel Chandler Harris Signed Photograph Up for Auction

Written on January 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm, by Melissa Swindell

Do you have $7,000? Great! Let’s spend it.

Joel Chandler Harris

This signed Joel Chandler Harris photograph is up for auction over on eBay. The starting bid is a mere $6,999.

The date of the photograph isn’t given, but I’d reckon it was taken in the mid-1890s during Harris’s pomade period.

If you’re feeling miserly, feel free to skip the signed photograph and go straight for the Joel Chandler Harris Anniversary Christmas Tree Balls:

Joel Chandler Harris Christmas Balls

At $19.99 these unused Balls are a steal, if a little fuzzy.

Joel Chandler Harris, Soap Collector

Written on August 6, 2010 at 10:22 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Yesterday in one of our bookcases I stumbled across a limited-edition retrospective on Joel Chandler Harris. The book was put together by some of Harris’s friends shortly after his death and includes a sunny biography, a few anecdotes, and the eulogy given at his funeral.

I liked this story, recounted by Forrest Adair:

Though Mr. Harris himself seldom went away from home, his family occasionally took a long summer outing, leaving “Uncle Remus” to hold the fort.

Mr. Harris was alone in his house working on an editorial, when a ring at the door disturbed him. He answered the bell, and a rather genteel-looking, middle-aged man saluted him, offering toilet soap for sale at “ten cents a cake, or three cakes for a quarter.” Annoyed by the interruption, Harris said rather brusquely that he did not need any soap.

“But I am on the verge of starvation,” said the man.

“The idea!” laughed Mr. Harris.  “Why, man, you are wearing a better coat than I have!”

“You would not talk so,” he replied in a tremulous voice, “if you had seen how hard my poor wife rubbed and brushed my coat this morning so that I would present a respectable appearance.”

Harris then saw that the coat was old, almost threadbare, but exceedingly clean and neat.  He glanced again at the man’s face.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I was very busy when you came, and spoke thoughtlessly. Now that I think of it, I do need some soap. Fact is, I am completely out.”

“Thank you,” interrupted the man. “Here are three cakes for a quarter.”

“Nonsense!” said Harris. “Here is a five-dollar bill. I will take it all in soap. Got to have it—couldn’t do without it—always buy it in five-dollar lots.”

“I am about the extent of a tenth of a gnat’s eyebrow better.”

Written on July 3, 2010 at 8:43 am, by Lain Shakespeare

— Joel Chandler Harris’s last words on this day in 1908, answering the question “How are you this morning, father?”

West End Historic Walk by Steven Weitzman

Written on May 14, 2010 at 10:39 am, by Lain Shakespeare

We’re honored to be included a new public art project from the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs: the West End Historic Walk.

Artist Steven Weitzman has conjured up a sidewalk installation that will abut our neighborhood’s glorious majestic existent Mall West End.  14 colored cement panels surrounded by specialty pavers will depict the history of our neighborhood.

The Wren’s Nest is featured in one of the panels, above. In front of the house, children are playing jump rope with Brer Rabbit.

Esther LaRose Harris, wife of Joel, is featured in the one about St. Anthony’s.

Esther was instrumental in founding St. Anthony’s in 1903, and  Joel Chandler Harris actually bought the land for the church.  Read up on the history of St. Anthony’s here.

The colored cement, called FOTERA, is several inches deep, so no matter how hard you try to chip it, the image won’t be altered.  Nice try, suckas.

Take a look at Weitzman’s previous work with FOTERA.