Joel Chandler Harris, Storyteller
Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908) attended a lecture of a Tulane University professor and scholar named Alcee Fortier when he discovered that the African folk stories that slaves had told Fortier were similar to the ones Harris had also heard in Georgia. 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 stories, fables, or folklore, this may be the place for you. 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 Shakespeare, 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.”
A video about the Wren’s Nest can be seen on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/1A6hMfxt5gg.
What to Read
The Wren’s Nest is the seventh stop on our Georgia Author Adventures Trail.