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This Day in Georgia History

December 09, 1845

Joel Chandler Harris Born

Author Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia. Harris lived with his mother, a servant, until age thirteen, when he moved to a plantation named Turnwold and began work as a printer’s devil on the Countryman, a weekly published by Joseph Addison Turner. Soon Harris was writing articles for the newspaper. When the Countryman ceased publication, Harris took a position with the Macon Telegraph, then the Monroe Advertiser, and later the Savannah Morning News. In 1876 an outbreak of yellow favor forced Harris to take his family and temporarily move to Atlanta. But Atlanta was to become Harris’s permanent home. He joined the staff of the Atlanta Constitution, where he worked under Henry Grady. Harris wrote editorials on many subjects, but most popular were his works of fiction based on scenes he had seen and dialects he had heard while growing up in Eatonton and on the Turnwold plantation. Eventually these stories, told by the fictional Uncle Remus, were gathered and published in book form in 1880. Since then numerous editions and compilations of the Uncle Remus stories have been published. While they were always well accepted, the stories’ popularity soared with the release of Walt Disney’s film version - “Song of the South” - soon after World War II. After 25 years of service, Harris resigned from the Atlanta Constitution in 1900. He became editor of his own Uncle Remus Magazine in 1907. Harris died at his Atlanta home, known as the Wren’s Nest, on July 2, 1908. In 1923, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a monument to Harris on the grounds of the Putnam County courthouse in Eatonton, Georgia.