Atlanta’s “Authors Grove”

“On the patch of land in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park along Piedmont Road between its 13th and 14th street entrances stands something very rare in American cities: a living memorial for writers.

Established during World War I by local journalist and poet Lollie Belle Wylie, dozens of trees have been planted over the years, each dedicated by an Atlanta civic organization to the memory of famous – and some not-so-famous – authors.

The first seedling, planted on December 10, 1918, was dedicated to Jacques Futrelle, a promising young Atlanta journalist who perished on the Titanic in 1912.

The Atlanta Writer’s Club, which Lollie Belle presided over for many years and which coordinated the tree plantings, had some interesting ideas about who should be memorialized. Near the tree dedicated to Mr. Shakespeare you’ll find one dedicated to a Mr. Charles Hubner, and another to one Father Ryan O’Henry. Among the trees dedicated to Jack London, John Masefield, Edgar Allan Poe, and James Whitcomb Riley, you’ll find others memorializing favorite sons Joel Chandler Harris, Henry Grady, Sidney Lanier – and another for J.Y. Holland, who once edited the Ladies Home Journal.

A further oddity is the tree dedicated to Mother Goose, who may not have written anything herself but, as we know, had a lot of good stories told about her.

Only two female writers are honored in the Authors Grove: Louisa Alcott and – you guessed it – Lollie Belle Wylie herself. (Ms. Wylie, among her other accomplishments, wrote the music for Georgia’s first official state song.) Lollie Belle’s name was inscribed among those of the Great Ones on a bronze and granite monument during a rededication ceremony in 1961.”

Quoted from The Booklover’s Guide to Atlanta by Cal Gough and Celeste Tibbets (Point of Reference, 1992). Source cited: “Authors Grove: A Few Facts…” by Augusta Wylie King. Typed manuscript (Ms. #387F/Folder 2 of 2) dated March 17, 1944. Manuscript Collection, Atlanta Historical Society Library.

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