Sometimes, an evening you expect to be routine becomes oh so much more! For me, a book signing became a night of art, history, writing and publishing.

James Cobb, Professor Emeritus of History at University of Georgia, has just written a biography of C. Vann Woodward, the influential American historian. Woodward’s studies and writings focused primarily on the history of the South and race relations; he won a Pulitzer Prize for his edited version of Mary Chestnut’s Civil War diaries.

I had the opportunity to meet James Cobb at a recent talk and book signing he gave in Atlanta, courtesy of the University of North Carolina Press, who published his new book.  James Cobb is a vigorous, spry, self-deprecating, and thoroughly engaging gentleman. He spoke without notes, talking about his subject, C. Vann Woodward, as if he had been a close friend. He brought the man alive for me, and I can’t wait to read the book.

I loved listening to the introductory remarks given by Mark Simpson-Vos, Editorial Director of the University of North Carolina Press. UNC Press is celebrating its 100th year this year. In 1922, it was the first university press in the South, and one of the first in the nation. In the intervening 100 years, it has published Pulitzer prize-winning books as well as National Book Award-winning books. Mr. Simpson-Vos spoke about the past 100 years of UNC Press, and the passion for “offering engaging authoritative works on all aspects of the regional’s history and culture ….” to the South and the world. I imagine it is a lovely and inspiring place to work.

There is another reason I loved loved loved this book event. It happened at the May Patterson Goodrum House, a historic Buckhead home, which is being accurately and meticulously restored by the Watson-Brown Foundation. The home, originally designed by famed Atlanta architect Philip Shutze, has breathtaking murals by Athos Menaboni and Kenyon Cox. I have a personal connection with this house; my husband grew up nearby and remembers helping chase their peacocks when they got loose. He is currently writing a book about historic Buckhead homes and this house is included in his book. Also, Athos Menaboni was a friend of my artist mother-in-law; a couple of his paintings were wedding gifts to us years ago.

So, I came away from this beautiful evening feeling refreshed, and reinvigorated. I learned something, I heard a great author speak, and I was surrounded by gorgeous art. Now, back to writing!

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