Harlan Hubbard’s legacy as a famed Kentucky writer and artist remains strong to this day – 28 years after his death from prostrate cancer on Jan. 16, 1988. Hubbard and his wife, Anna, spent 34 years living off the land in primitive fashion on the banks of the Ohio River in Trimble County, Ky. It was there that Harlan painted riverboat and landscape scenes, wrote in his journal and penned several books about his philosophy on “life on the fringe” of society. Anna died in 1986. Both are buried just below their rustic home, which sits on a bluff in Payne Hollow overlooking the river.
The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning’s Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame
2016 Inductees: Harlan Hubbard, Bobbie Ann Mason, James Lane Allen, Jean Ritchie, Alice Hegan Rice
2015 Inductees: Wendell Berry, Guy Davenport, Elizabeth Hardwick, Jim Wayne Miller, Effie Waller Smith, Hunter S. Thompson
2014 Inductees: Rebecca Caudill, Thomas D. Clark, Janice Holt Giles, James Baker Hall, Etheridge Knight, Thomas Merton, Jesse Stuart
2013 Inductees: Harriette Arnow, William Wells Brown, Harry Caudill, Elizabeth Maddox Roberts, James Still, Robert Penn Warren
Hubbard’s books continue to inspire followers to this day. His artwork is considered prized by those few who own a Hubbard painting. The University of Kentucky Library has a large catalogue of Hubbards artwork. The University of Louisville holds a vast collection of Hubbard’s original manuscripts and journal writings. The Beringer Crawford Museum in Hubbard’s native Covington, Ky., has a large collection of his artwork, as does Hanover College, where the writer frequently visited to check out books at the campus library. His paintings are held by many private owners scattered throughout the country.
To honor his legacy and his talent, The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning at 251 W. Second St. in Lexington, Ky., plans to induct Hubbard into its Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame during a 7 p.m. ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 28. Hubbard will also join the likes of Kentucky authors Wendell Berry and Hunter S. Thompson in the hall, which was established in 2013. Last year, Berry, of Port Royal, Ky., in nearby Henry County, became the only living writer to ever be inducted.
“Harlan Hubbard fits into the mode of famous Kentucky writers, so it is fitting that he be admitted to the Hall,” said Carnegie Center Executive Director Neil Chethik. “Much like Berry, Hubbard was very dedicated to the land and what it has to offer. You don’t see many writers in other areas of the country who have that connection to the land, and what it’s like to live day to day in a meaningful way.”
In addition to Hubbard, three other deceased Kentuckians will be inducted in the class of 2016 –novelist Bobbie Ann Mason, novelist James Lane Allen, songwriter and performer Jean Ritchie, young adult book author Alice Hogan Rice. Of these, Mason is the only living inductee and will join Berry as only the second living inductee to the Hall.
Mason grew up on her family’s dairy farm in western Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1962, she earned a master’s degree at the State University of New York and a doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She became a prominent novelist especially known for her novels “In Country” and “The Girl in the Blue Beret” and a memoir titled “Clear Springs.”
Born in 1849, Allen became famous for his novels and short stories based in his native Kentucky. He later moved to New York, where he died in 1925.
Ritchie was part of the great song families of the Appalachians. She was a teacher, record label owner and instrument maker who helped popularize traditional folk music from Appalachia. Ritchie died June 1, 2015, at age 92. Ritchie will become the first songwriter admitted to the Hall, according to Chethik.
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Born in Shelbyville, Ky., in 1870, Rice became best known for her children’s books, the most famous of which is “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch,” set in Louisville, Ky., in 1902. It was made into a play in 1903 and there were three Hollywood movie versions of it. She was marred to poet and dramatist Cale Young Rice, and the two lived at 1444 St. James Court in Louisville.
The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame was created to recognize Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of the Commonwealth and to educate Kentuckians about the state’s rich literary heritage. For a writer to have been eligible this year, he must be 1) deceased (excluding one living writer); 2) published; 3) someone whose writing is of enduring stature; and 4) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“One of my roles here is to help other writers get published, so we offer weekly classes and a writing track for amateurs,” said Chethik, 58, a former newspaper journalist and freelance writer who has also penned two book on men’s personal lives.
Chethik, who has been in his current position since 2011, said the center also offers basic literary classes to promote reading and writing and to promote Kentucky authors whenever possible. “Kentucky has a great history of published writers,” he said.
The nonprofit Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning was established in 1992. Its mission is to empower people to explore and express their voices through imaginative learning and the literary arts.
The Center offers programs for both children and adults, providing workshops and interaction with authors. It offers seasonal classes in Writing, Computer Literacy, graphic design, and Language; tutoring for students grades K-12; vibrant youth and family programs and exhibits, readings, and other arts-related events designed “to encourage among Central Kentuckians an appreciation for all art forms and for learning in general.”
Many classes and events at the Carnegie Center are free, and wherever low-cost registration fees are required, scholarships are available to help those in need.
The Center encourages active, critical and creative learning via these goals:
• Promote the components of literacy, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and technology;
• Provide educational opportunities for people of all ages and levels of learning;
• Establish partnerships with artists, educators, and community groups;
• Support and promote Kentucky writers and artists;
• Engage the imagination through literary arts;
• Preserve and enhance the historic Carnegie building for the benefit of the community.
For more information on The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning, visit the website www.CarnegieCenterLex.org. For more information about the Hubbards, visit www.HarlanHubbard.com, a website created and dedicated to the legacy, history and work of Harlan Hubbard.
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