A unique collection of fiction set wholly or partially in North Carolina has been donated to the North Carolina Collection at Joyner Library. Called an invaluable source for research in many fields, the collection contains more than 1,200 fictional works, covering the period 1720 to the present.
Among the remarkable books found in the collection are the first modern historical novel, James Boyd's Drums (1925); two titles by the first major black American author, Charles Waddell Chesnutt; two novels by the author of the first modern children's novels, Elizabeth Gray Vining; the first professional detective/murder mystery, James Hay's (1919); the first children's book with a North Carolina setting, Mary Ann Bryan Mason's The Winning Clue A Wreath from the Woods of Carolina (1859), which has notable color plates of Carolina wildflowers; the first novel set entirely in North Carolina, Eoneguski, or The Cherokee Chief, by Robert Strange; and titles by the first native North Carolina novelist, Calvin Henderson Wiley.
Rare works in the collection include the first work of fiction to mention "Carolina," Miscellanea Aurea: Or the Golden Medley; the first novel with a North Carolina setting, Antoine Francois Prevost's Life and Entertaining Adventures of Mr. Cleveland (1734-35); David Morrill's The Passing Clouds (1903); Benjamin Barker's Blackbeard; or, the Pirate of the Roanoke (1847); and William D. Herrington's The Deserter's Daughter (1865). Both Morrill and Herrington are Pitt County authors about whom little is known or written, and both of whom furnish valuable local information. Morrill was a doctor in Farmville who wrote tales for his children patients, and Herrington served in the Confederate Army in the Kinston area, before deserting and disappearing in Wisconsin. Only three copies of the Barker work are known to exist, only one of them in North Carolina.
Many of the titles are first editions or have their original binding or book jackets. Others are signed by their authors.
The collection was donated in May 2001 by Snow L. and B.W.C. Roberts of Durham, who were pleased to make their gift to East Carolina University because of its commitment to North Carolina studies.
For further information, contact the North Carolina Collection at 328-6601 or: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-lib/ncc/