Banjo © Author Adventures

Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908) attended a lecture of a Tulane University professor and scholar named Alcee Fortier when he discovered that the African stories that slaves had told Fortier were similar to the ones he had heard from his elders. These are the stories that he published under the “Uncle Remus” pen name.

“Once ’pon a time,” said Uncle Remus to the little boy—“But when was once upon a time?” the child interrupted to ask. The old man smiled. “I speck ’twuz one time er two times, er maybe a time an’ a half,” so begins a classic Joel Chandler Harris story.

The Wren’s Nest

The Wren’s Nest is the home of Joel Chandler Harris and is the oldest historic home museum in Atlanta. If you enjoy rural history, these old tales will pluck your heart like a thumb pick to a banjo string. Despite the rural flavor, Atlanta’s population was comparable to most large cities of its time when Harris lived there. Today, the city proper and its surrounding metropolitan area have grown exponentially.

We like this description of the Wren’s Nest found in the Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums by Franklin D. Vagnone and Deborah E. Ryan (2016):

“Director of the House, Lain Shakespear, says, ‘We’re letting people know the full story, instead of the story that’s been told by other people. We talk about it. We don’t sweep it under the rug.’ By preserving both the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris AND the heritage of African American folklore, the HHM [Historic House Museum] has become an educational resource for the city of Atlanta.”

What to Read

Be sure and read about Uncle Remus stories at before visiting.

The Wren’s Nest is the seventh stop on our Georgia Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart