Ray Hicks

Master Storyteller of the Blue Ridge

By Robert Isbell

Foreword by Wilma Dykeman

Ray Hicks

192 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, bibl.

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4962-0
    Published: April 2001

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Ray Hicks, 78, the famous teller of Appalachian Jack Tales, is one of America's best-loved storytellers. In this book he shares a different kind of story, a chronicle of his family's experiences in the remote section of the North Carolina mountains where they have lived for more than 200 years.

The pioneers who settled Beech Mountain were a God-fearing people who cherished the stories, the songs, and the ways of their ancestors. For generations, the Hickses have preserved tales of family history--the struggles and the celebrations--right alongside tales of giants and magic hens. Now readers will come to know the wisdom, humor, hardships, and dignity of this remarkable clan. Robert Isbell's profile of Ray Hicks and his family also pays tribute to the longstanding Appalachian traditions of music-making and storytelling. First published in 1996 as The Last Chivaree, the book is based on hundreds of hours of conversations and many years of friendship.

About the Author

Robert Isbell, a former journalist and bank executive, lives on Winyah Bay, near Georgetown, South Carolina, in winter and spends the summers in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
For more information about Robert Isbell, visit the Author Page.


"It is through a Homeric sensibility, in fact, that Hicks and Isbell work together to convey these stories and sentiments without the least bit of nostalgia. . . . Life, death, hardship, poverty, music, the beauty of spring, the indignity of walking to school in shoes made of corn shucks and the art of falling in love define a life and a region from which we have much to learn. Just listen."--Blue Ridge Country

"A tender, loving, magical book."--Guy Munger, "Literary Lantern"

"A book to be savored and to remind us of a quieter and simpler way of life."--North Carolina Libraries

"In this intriguing study of the Hicks family of Beech Mountain, journalist Isbell provides excellent insight into the lives of the people who live in the Appalachian mountains."--Library Journal

"Amid the hardship, the Hicks family fashioned a life full of humor and amazement for the natural gifts abundant on Beech Mountain. . . . [This book] captures the essence of Ray Hicks's stories and the sound of Stanley Hicks's dulcimer."--Asheville Citizen-Times

"If any one performer embodies the true essence of storytelling, . . . Ray Hicks is that performer."--Blue Ridge Country