Family of Earth

A Southern Mountain Childhood

By Wilma Dykeman

Foreword by Robert Morgan

208 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 6 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2914-8
    Published: September 2016
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3054-0
    Published: September 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2915-5
    Published: September 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5043-0
    Published: September 2016

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, 2016 Weatherford Award for Nonfiction, Berea College and Appalachian Studies Association

Discovered as a typewritten manuscript only after her death in 2006, Family of Earth allows us to see into the young mind of author and Appalachian native Wilma Dykeman (1920–2006), who would become one of the American South’s most prolific and storied writers. Focusing on her childhood in Buncombe County, Dykeman reveals a perceptive and sophisticated understanding of human nature, the environment, and social justice. And yet, for her words’ remarkable polish, her voice still resonates as raw and vital. Against the backdrop of early twentieth-century life in Asheville, she chronicles the touching, at times harrowing, story of her family’s fortunes, plotting their rise and fall in uncertain economic times and ending with her father’s sudden death in 1934 when she was fourteen years old.

Featuring a new foreword by fellow North Carolinian Robert Morgan, Family of Earth stands as a new major literary work by a groundbreaking author.

About the Author

Wilma Dykeman (1920-2006) was a novelist, historian, journalist, educator, speaker, and environmentalist who pioneered in the areas of water pollution, civil rights, oral history, Appalachian Studies, and the empowerment of women.
For more information about Wilma Dykeman, visit the Author Page.


“A haunting and exquisite book, not to mention a rare exception to the rule that no one so young should write a memoir. Even without much life experience, Dykeman has a great deal to say about life.”—New York Times Book Review

“A captivating, poetic, difficult-to-categorize book that abundantly showcases the author’s talent for making words dance. Anyone who has lived in the countryside, or wished they had, will enjoy Dykeman’s celebration of nature.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"A wonderful introduction to Dykeman's works (e.g., The French Broad) for first-time readers and a welcome addition for fans."—Library Journal

“It’s a gift that UNC Press has put the story that showcases the mind of a young author and Appalachian native into print.”—Mountain Times

“[The] writing is pungent, earthy and raw yet at the same time elegant. . . . A quick read that will leave you wishing Dykeman had written more.”—Carolina Mountain Life

“A fortunate find. . . . This memoir from a North Carolina treasure will keep you busy. There is much to think about and ponder in these pages.”—The Herald-Sun