Charlottesville Authors Published in 2016

In 2016, authors local to the Charlottesville area published over 40 books, ranging from poetry collections to photography books to novels written on the timeless themes of love and loss. The list of Charlottesville authors includes several recognizable names, such as bestselling authors John Grisham, Jan Karon, and Rita Mae Brown, award-winning author and former poet laureate Rita Dove, as well as newcomer Margot Lee Shetterly, whose novel Hidden Figures was adapted to film for a major motion picture released to theaters this month. Whether it is the rolling hills and beautiful mountain views that offer inspiration, the intellectual draw of the University of Virginia, or the small but vibrant urban center of Charlottesville that stimulates ideas and conversation, it’s evident that many writers are making a home for themselves in this particularly lovely piece of central Virginia.

Here is the list we’ve compiled of books published by area writers in 2016. Let us know if we’ve overlooked anyone!


Nine Island (Catapult) by Jane Alison. A woman in Miami translates Ovid and considers giving up love, all while observing the complex relationship dynamics within her condo community.
Some of the Parts (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by Hannah Barnaby. A teen reeling from her brother’s accidental death searches for his organ donation recipients in hopes of finding closure.
Cakewalk: A Novel (Bantam) by Rita Mae Brown. Sisters in a southern town test the boundaries that define their lives in the aftermath of WWI.
Tall Tail: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (Bantam) by Rita Mae Brown. A crime in present-day Crozet, Virginia leads Harry to research a murder that happened in 1784, all with the help of her feline companions.
Ninja Librarians: A Sword in the Stacks (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) by Jenn Swann Downey. In this middle-grade young adult book, Dorrie time travels to 1912 England as an apprentice of the society of ninja librarians she has stumbled upon.
The Other Side of Hope (CreateSpace) by R.F. Dunham. In this work of speculative fiction, the eastern hemisphere is the economic center of the world and Islam is the dominant religion when a terrorist attack sparks a war between east and west.
The Whistler (Doubleday) by John Grisham. Lacy Stoltz investigates a judge accused of helping to fund a mafia-backed casino who is now pocketing casino money.
Theodore Boone: The Scandal (Dutton Books for Young Readers) by John Grisham. A 13-year-old investigates possible cheating on standardized tests at his school.
Scamming Death, The Scary Mary Series (CreateSpace) by S.A. Hunter. Protagonist Mary battles the angel of death who is terrorizing a nursing home.
Nitro Mountain: A Novel (Knopf) by Lee Clay Johnson. This novel follows the dramas within an Appalachian Virginia town.
Barhoppers: The Answer Man and Other Bar Plays (Indie Theater Now) by Joel Jones. These short, comedic plays with a philosophical bent explore themes of love, ambition, and testing social boundaries.
Come Rain or Come Shine, Mitford Series (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Jan Karon. Dooley Kavanagh and Lace Harper finally wed– in a barn.
Invisible Fault Lines (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) by Kristen-Paige Madonia. A modern teen’s father disappears on a construction site. Possible clues lead her to research the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Done Growed Up, Apron Strings Trilogy Volume 2 (Westropp Press) by Mary Morony. This second book in the series continues the story of the Mackey family and their black maid in the 1950s American South.
Lost and Found, The Maria Series Book 5 (CreateSpace) by Ella Rea Murphy. In the late 1940s, protagonist Maria explores the new economic freedom available to women, while also preoccupied with thoughts of three different men.
Grave New World, Slate & Ashe Series No. 4 (Echelon Graphic Novels) written by Ethan Murphy, edited by Susan L. Holland, art by Luigi Teruel. The titular evolved zombie and outlaw run from one problem only to stumble upon another: an armed militia.
Pigloo (Henry Holt & Co.) by Anne Marie Pace. In this picture book a young pig plans to explore the North Pole, despite the naysaying of his sister.
Losing It (Riverhead Books) by Emma Rathbone. Julia, an adult woman who happens to be a virgin, spends the summer with her single, ageing aunt only to learn that her aunt has also unintentionally remained chaste. Julia is on a mission to find out how this happened and how she can avoid a similar fate.
There Is Nothing Strange (Holland House) by Susan Pepper Robbins. This novel explores the entanglements of a love triangle between married couple Laura and Jeremy, and their friend Henry.
The Giant, Quarantine Book 4 (Carolrhoda Lab TM) by Lex Thomas (writing team Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies). In the fourth book in the Quarantine series, protagonist Gonzalo searches for his love, Sasha.



Cut on the Bias: Poems (Laughing Fire Press) by Patricia Asuncion. In this collection of poetry, the personal is the political as the author writes of growing up a biracial Filipino American in inner-city Chicago.
Waking to Beauty: Encounters with Remarkable Beings (Rainbow Ridge) by Rosalyn Berne. While recounting her connection to horses, the author considers the presence of divinity in the animal kingdom.
Homes and Haunts: Touring Writers’ Shrines and Countries (Oxford University Press) by Alison Booth. This study explores public interest in writers’ homes.
FLOAT: Becoming Unstuck for Writers (Be Well Here) by AM Carley. This helpful guide consists of exercises and prompts to stimulate the writing mind by a professional writing coach.
Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton & Company) by Rita Dove. This robust collection spans thirty years of the former poet laureate’s career, ranging from subjects of motherhood, language, and African American identity.
Why Write? A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why It Matters (Bloomsbury USA) by Mark Edmundson. The author explores the titular question and why writing is a vital form of expression.
The Preschool Parent Primer (IvyArtz) by Pamela Evans. This petite primer is packed with everything preschool teachers wish their students’ parents knew.
Shantytown, USA: Forgotten Landscapes of the Working Poor (Harvard University Press) by Lisa Goff. This scholarly book follows the history of shantytowns.
The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces (University of Indiana Press) by Russell Grieger. This memoir reflects back on that rare experience in athletics: completing the perfect season.
Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard University Press) by Jack Hamilton. This scholarly book explores what led to the whitewashing of rock and roll.
For Love of the Land: A History of the Wintergreen Community (The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen) by Mary Buford Hitz. This illustrated coffee table book chronicles the conservation efforts that led to the creation of Wintergreen resort.
First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His—and the Nation’s—Prosperity (Da Capo Press) by Edward G. Lengel. This book explores the economic principles that informed Washington’s approach to government.
Whistle What Can’t be Said: Poems (Unicorn Press) by Charlotte Matthews. These poems reflect on the author’s experiences in childhood, and with cancer and survival.
Night Sky Frequencies and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press) by Debra Nystrom. The common thread that ties these poems together is a narrative that follows the lives of two abandoned children.
Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go (She Writes Press) by Joan Z. Rough. This deeply personal and emotional memoir chronicles the challenges and rewards of caring for an aging parent with whom the author had a difficult relationship.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (William Morrow & Company) by Margot Lee Shetterly. This New York Times Bestseller recounts the true story of four African American women mathematicians whose calculations for NASA made space travel possible.
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Scout to Go Set a Watchman (Henry Holt & Co.) by Charles Shields. In this revised biography, the author considers the posthumous publication of Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson (University of Virginia Press) edited by Lisa Russ Spaar. A collection of various poets explores and interrogates Thomas Jefferson’s complicated legacy.
God of Earth: Discovering a Radically Ecological Christianity (Westminster John Knox Press) by Kristin Swenson. The author, an associate professor of religious studies, explores the sacred in the natural world.
I’m Not from the South, But I Got Down Here as Fast as I Could (Sartoris Literary Group) by Tony Vanderwarker. In this memoir the author recounts his migration to, and immersion in, the south.
Glass Harvest (Autumn House) by Amie Whittemore. This collection of poetry examines love and loss with language that often references nature.


Carry Me Ohio (Sturm & Drang) by Matt Eich. This collection of photographs documents the ten years the photographer spent with the people of southeastern Ohio.
The Philosopher’s Style (Grey Book) by Beatrix Ost. This eclectic collection combines fiction, interviews, and visual art from the author’s collection.
Flash: The Photography of Ed Roseberry: Charlottesville, Virginia 1940s-1970s (C’ville Images) by Steve Trumbull. Vintage black and white photographs show Charlottesville in the mid-1900s.


Local Holiday Market Gift Shopping Guide

With Thanksgiving behind us, the gift-giving season is officially here. Not only are small local businesses encouraging customers to shop local, but local artisans are coming together as well and assembling seasonal holiday markets. Charlottesville and the surrounding counties support such a vast and vibrant arts community that there are several seasonal markets to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a specific handmade gift or want to soak up the ambiance and get in the holiday spirit, there is something for everyone.

Charlottesville Holiday Market  | 100 Water Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Saturdays, November 26 – December 17, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Every year Charlottesville’s iconic decorative snowflakes suddenly appear on the sides of downtown buildings, signaling the start of the holiday season. And just off the downtown mall, the weekly Charlottesville City Market evolves into the Charlottesville Holiday Market for the four Saturdays before Christmas Eve. Over 100 local vendors, farmers and artisans alike, sell handcrafted items, baked goods, and seasonal decorative displays. There’s bound to be some hot cocoa, too, in place of the summertime lemonade and popsicle stands.

Gift Forest | The Bridge PAI | 209 Monticello Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Wednesday, November 30 – Saturday, December 24 | Monday-Friday, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; December 24, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Throughout the year in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative hosts art shows and open mics with the mission of bringing together different people from different communities for a shared experience. This holiday season they will host over 50 “artists, makers and collectors” as they convert their space into a pop-up market. A First Friday reception on December 2 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm will include complementary tasty treats.  

McGuffey Art Center Holiday Member Show and Holiday Market | 201 Second Street SW, Charlottesville, VA 22902

December 2, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

For over 40 years, McGuffey Art Center has provided space for artists in Charlottesville to work, teach, and display their art. The First Friday in December is a special one as it features artwork by its members for gift-giving in the holiday season. Following the First Friday reception, their Holiday Market will remain set up all month long in the gift shop, offering handmade gifts such as jewelry, pottery, prints, and fabrics that are gentler on the wallet of the holiday shopper.  

Christmas Bazaar | Scottsville Community Senior Center | 250 Page Street, Scottsville, VA 24590

Saturday, December 3, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

A tradition for the last 15 years, this year’s Scottsville Christmas Bazaar features new participating vendors, a visit from Santa from 10:00 am – 1:30 pm, a bouncy house, silent auction, and fresh kettle corn and other food vendors. The proceeds will benefit the Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Holiday Bazaar | Charlottesville Waldorf School | 120 Waldorf School Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901

Saturday, December 3, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

For over 30 years, the Charlottesville Waldorf School has opened its doors to the public every December for their Holiday Bazaar. Child-friendly activities include cookie decorating, jump rope making, and a special shop called The Secret Garden where young shoppers can purchase items for $2 each. The Bazaar features handcrafted gifts such as knitwear and woodwork. Refreshments will be available at Rudolph’s Diner and the Snack Shop. There will be a Preview Night on December 2, 6:00 – 9:00 pm (adults only).  

Enchanted Extravaganza | The Market at Grelen | 15901 Yager Road, Somerset, VA 22972

Saturday, December 3, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Enchanted Extravaganza takes place at The Market at Grelen, a farm and nursery founded on the principles of sustainable agriculture and the farm-to-table movement, and is co-sponsored by Shabby Love, a company that upcycles old and mistreated furniture. Twenty-two local artisans will sell their goods under a tent, while fresh Christmas trees and garlands will be for sale nearby. The charge for admission is $5 per car. There is also a wreath workshop that costs $50 per person, including supplies. Buy yourself a cup of hot chocolate and warm yourself in front of the fire pit while you await Santa’s arrival. The master toymaker himself will be available from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. There will also be a Chili Bar open for business.

Craftacular Holiday Market  | IX Art Park | 2nd Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Saturday, December 3, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

For the last ten years, Craftacular has brought together local artists to share their wares with the public for the holiday season. While the market has set up shop in different locations over the years, this year it will be housed at the IX Art Park, a community arts space that hosts events throughout the year as varied as open-air yoga, performance art, and opera. Craftacular’s vendor count continues to grow as this year it reaches over 40, supplying an ample array of styles to choose from when selecting your gift. Vendors this year include Root and Radish (colorful printed fabrics and cards), Purcell Toys (a wood toymaker), the Freckled Farm Soap Company, Stronge Designs (quirky, pop culture-inspired prints), and Pan & Tea jewelry-makers.

Weihnachtsmarkt | Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia | 1290 Richmond Avenue, Staunton, VA 24401

Saturday, December 3, 1:00 – 7:00 pm | Saturday, December 10, 1:00 – 7:00 pm

Named after the traditional German Christmas market that has endured since the late middle ages, this Weihnachtsmarkt will feature the handcrafted and historic-inspired work of regional artisans in open-air booths. One such participating vendor is Medieval Fantasies Company, based out of Churchville, Virginia. They sell handmade historic toys, bows and arrows, earth tone pottery, and handmade soaps. Another participating vendor is New River Nature, which sells photographic prints and handcrafted wooden frames. There will also be German and American fare to satisfy those shopping spree appetites.

Mistletoe Market | John Paul Jones Arena | 295 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903

Sunday, December 4, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Throughout the year, the Junior League of Charlottesville plans multiple community events to benefit the residents of Charlottesville, such as the Girls of Summer reading program and the Kids in the Kitchen nutrition education program. This December they will host their 13th annual Mistletoe Market at John Paul Jones Arena. The market will feature handcrafted goods, photographic prints, handmade jewelry, baked goods, and seasonal decorations. There is an admission fee of $5 in advance (which you can purchase here) or $8 at the door, which helps fund the operation of the Junior League.  

Local Author Book Fair | WriterHouse | 508 Dale Avenue, Charlottesville, VA, 22902

Sunday, December 4, 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Twelve local authors will be selling and signing their books at WriterHouse next Sunday and will be happy to personalize them as gifts. There will be a designated children’s room with two picture book authors and the author of a preschool primer for parents where young readers can hang out. The books for sale range from travel memoir to the craft of writing, from eco-fiction to mystery, and from children’s picture books to a lovely coffee table book about Wintergreen. Participating authors are: Marc Boston, AM Carley, Michelle Damiani, Phyllis A. Duncan, R. F. Dunham, William Espinosa, Pamela Evans, Nell Goddin, Mary Buford Hitz, S. A. Hunter, Amy Lee-Tai, and Carolyn O’Neal.

Eclectic Spaces in Charlottesville

Charlottesville IX ArtWhen we think of living in Charlottesville, our minds tend to conjure up of images of vineyards, breweries, restaurants, sporting events, and high-profile concerts. But there are a few unconventional, out-of-the-way places that have found a home in Charlottesville. We’ll share our favorites here. 

Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar

Known affectionately as “The Tea House,” this place and its many hats have been around since 2002. They probably have the city’s biggest selection of tea, a seasonal selection of about 40 different teas from all over the world. It’s also Charlottesville’s only hookah bar, and you’ll probably catch a whiff of traditional Turkish tobacco or a house blend on your way to the bathroom or the back patio. The space and atmosphere are carefully cultivated, whether it be the array of comfy armchairs, the floating wire baskets of fruit, or the “tree,” whose titular, twisted, papier mache branches house stone statuettes, ancient teapots, and books (many about tea). With the exception of one item, their menu is completely vegetarian, with a slew of delicious vegan options as well. And on many nights, expect to catch some live music from some of the most substantive and original underground musicians on the scene–anything punk to hip-hop to indie. 

IX Art Park

Charlottesville IX Art Park
Pronounced “-icks,” not “nine,” the IX art park is quite unlike anything else the city has to offer. It’s located in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville (considered the “Brooklyn of Cville” by many), and accessible to anyone from dawn to dusk. Nearly everything you encounter is an exhibit, from the sweeping, variegated murals, to the lifesize windchimes, to the stairs painted like black and white piano keys. At its best, IX is home to a community-minded aesthetic that positions the artist and the audience in the same space. The actual park is outdoors, but it’s flanked by a handful of other shops: a taco joint, a bike shop, and Henley’s auction. The latter deserves its own mention, for having one of the most diverse, far-flung, and at times bizarre collection of antiques, doo-hickeys, knick-knacks, and doo-dads in town, and for having killer electronic/DJ shows on the weekends.

The Bridge PAI

The Bridge Public Arts Initiative began as an ideal, an attempt to marry the ideas of art, expression, creativity with community and civic engagement. They do this by hosting studio art exhibitions, spoken word and poetry performances, and live music out of an awesome space in Belmont. It was founded in 2004 and received non-profit status in 2010. Currently on display: Beyond the Single Story: Using Analog Hypertext to Explore Multiple Perspectives in an Object Study Gallery, an exhibit which displays audience commentary (most often via Post-it note) alongside pieces of art…on display until January 23. The goal is to foster civic relationships through art (any medium). Pretty cool idea.

The Alley Light

Okay, so we did explicitly mention that ideas of living in Charlottesville are inexorably linked to vineyards, breweries, and class bar/restaurants (like this one). So it feels slightly hypocritical to include the Alley Light on this list, but this out-of-the-way place earns a spot due to the fact that it’s virtually hidden. Right next to Revolutionary Soup on 2nd street, off the pedestrian downtown mall, and through (you guessed it) a dimly lit alley, this location cultivates the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy, due in part to the soft lighting and down-tempo jazz music. There is something exclusive (but not exclusionary) about a bar whose entrance is concealed…even though anyone can go, it feels like you’re complicit in something slightly mischievous. Enjoy some tasty French cuisine and one of their trademark Mary Lou Mules, a Southern twist on the Moscow Mule cocktail, complete with a copper mug.

Gorilla Theater

Live theater is a lost art, a voice long-since drowned out by the roar of television, the Internet, and Hollywood. But there is no substitute for the spontaneous, improvisatory nature of the stage; being privy to real humans emoting and expressing, mere feet away…it’s a beautiful thing. This small, DIY theater is on Allied St., close to the 250 bypass. The actors, actresses, and directors make little money (and are usually volunteers) who want only to hone their craft and share their gifts with others. These are folks who take chances on original material, people whose gratification comes more from developing a quality performance and less from having people “appreciate” that performance via social media outlets. The shows are a good time, with cheap wine and snacks, and since half the audience ends up being actors/crew, you can get up close and personal after the final act. Speaking of which…the next performance is a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, playing the last two weekends of this month. Check it out!


Low might be one of the coolest parts about living in Charlottesville. As a consignment shop, its offerings toe the line between quirky and compelling threads you’d never seen before, and reasonably-priced, extremely fashionable stuff you could wear anywhere. As a record store, it’s got some of the most obscure titles you’ve ever seen, little-known gems from forgotten eras, and some roughed-up, original pressings of some of your favorites. We all know that maintaining a record store is a difficult and rarely profitable venture, especially with old releases that aren’t as commercially viable, so seeing people doing it (and doing it so well) gives us hope.

 Atlas Comics

BOOM! BZZRRT! KA-POW! Walking into Atlas, the first thing you’ll see is an array of blown-up onomatopoeias on the wall. They lend themselves to what ends up being a pretty immersive comic book experience. This store is for anyone who laments the death of the graphic novel. You’ll quickly see why the art is alive and thriving, with modern-day imaginings of all your old favorite DC and Marvel characters and universes, alongside new heroes and worlds. We even checked out a newer title called Darth Vader and Friends, and it was hilarious. Atlas has been around for a while, and they’ll be here for much longer, albeit at a new location.

Charlottesville Star Power, Part II

We’re doing it again…if you live in Charlottesville, you probably know (and have likely seen) some of these familiar faces. But if you’re thinking about moving here and buying a home in Charlottesville, it’s only fitting you get to know some of your neighbors. Without further ado, here’s another list of famous faces ‘round the way.

John Grisham, Author, philanthropist
If you didn’t know, you’d hardly expect it out of the private, reserved Grisham, but he is one of the best-selling authors of his generation, alongside people like Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, and J.K. Rowling. Many of his works have been adapted for screens big and small, most notably The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and his first novel, A Time to Kill. He started out as a small-time lawyer in Mississippi but found a true calling in his thrilling legal dramas. He’s also a mainstay at the Virginia Festival of the Book, which comes to Charlottesville in March every year. Grisham is also a philanthropist and activist, sitting on the board of directors for the Innocence Project, donating a million annually to his alma mater Ole Miss, and, in recent years between $1 and $2 million annually through his charity, Oakwood Foundation. That is, by the way named after Oakwood, his farm in Albemarle County, in Covesville. It’s a majestic, 240-acre central Virginia estate with a horse farm and several gardens. He also owns another farm in central Virginia called Riverside. And, in the tradition of Faulkner, he is a former resident of Oxford, Mississippi who now lives in Charlottesville.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Actor, wrestler
A farm in central Virginia…not quite the place you’d expect a multimillion dollar wrestler-turned Hollywood action hero to inhabit. But if you can smell what the Rock is cookin’, it’s probably because you’re in Fluvanna, near his sprawling property east of Charlottesville. Little is known about this domicile, because years of living in the public eye has given Johnson a good idea of how to avoid it. A legion of kids grew up watching the Rock on World Wrestling Entertainment, and in addition to making him the most successful performer in that business, it helped him get the highest salary for a first-time actor in The Scorpion King. From there he was king of the The Fast and the Furious franchise, a bonafide blockbuster series in its time. Since then, the Rock has won over all the hearts that weren’t beating inside the chests of wide-eyed, angst-ridden young boys with their own TVs. He’s done this with a series of roles, some comedy, some action. We can’t tell you what the Rock really does on his Charlottesville farm, but we can tell you that he’s been spotted a few times at Gold’s Gym by various giddy locals, all of whom now have a story about how they beat the Rock in a pickup basketball game. Yea right buddy…us too.

John Kluge, Businessman, philanthropist
It’s difficult to drive through Charlottesville without seeing the Kluge brand somewhere in town. As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, John Kluge gave a lot to this city. He hailed from Chemnitz, Germany and studied economics up at Columbia University. He made most of his money in media and broadcasting, selling the television stations of his Metromedia company in 1986; these went on to form the core of Fox’s television programming. He is remembered today as a philanthropist, giving over $510 million to his alma mater. Most of that money goes to financial aid for underprivileged students, as he was once the beneficiary of scholarships. In Charlottesville, his presence is felt across a broad spectrum of public works. In 2001, he donated his 7,378 acre rural estate in Albemarle County to the University of Virginia. It remains the largest gift ever given to the university. UVa uses Morven Farm to hold classes and seminars, making the most of an opportunity to have agricultural instruction there. As an avid collector of indigenous Australian art, he helped found the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum at UVa. It’s considered one of the finest indigenous Australian collections in the world, even rivaling some in Australia itself. There’s also the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center (the facilities of which were recently moved by UVa and renamed the Battle Building), and the Kluge Vineyard and Estates, primarily run by his ex-wife and widow Patricia Kluge until it was bought by Donald Trump a few years ago and renamed Trump Vineyards.

Jessica Lange, Actress
Jessica Lange is routinely acknowledged as one of the finest actresses of her generation. She started out in a 1976 remake of King Kong, putting on a string of powerful performances that reinterpreted the role of the damsel-in-distress, the victimized heroine in film. She brought depth to these characters and in many cases restored a sense of autonomy that was rare in the male gaze-ridden Hollywood of the 70s and 80s. In 1982, she became the first performer (male or female) in 40 years to win two Oscar nominations in one year, for Best Actress in a Lead Role (for her portrayal of Hollywood actress Frances Farmer in Frances) and Best Supporting Actress (for her role in Tootsie). After several film roles, she made her Broadway debut playing Blanche DuBois in the Tennessee Williams magnum opus A Streetcar Named Desire. She and actor husband Sam Shepard settled down on a huge Charlottesville farm, raising their children for ten years before moving up to her native Minnesota. They also grew chickens and veggies.

Edgar Allen Poe, Author, poet
Charlottesville’s most famous dropout, Edgar Allen Poe was a master of the macabre in literature, captivating audiences with thrilling, gripping short works wherein the familiar becomes strange and uncanny shapes and characters create a distorted version of reality. Poe is widely considered to have invented the “detective mystery” genre, so someone call John Grisham and tell him to pay homage. His work is dark Romanticism, a response to the burgeoning transcendentalist aesthetic of the time; let’s just say Poe was not making any trips to Walden anytime soon. The poem “The Raven” is probably his most notable piece of work; it tells of a sentient raven and his conversation with a man in distress over unrequited love. These common themes unravel as the poem details the man’s slow descent into madness. The young Poe was orphaned early in life and bounced around places in Virginia before matriculating at UVa in 1826. He was unable to afford tuition and left after a year. There is some speculation as to where exactly his dorm at UVa was located, but most agree it was at 13 West Range. It has been preserved, and its upkeep is seen to by a collection of faculty and students known as the Raven Society. Unlike many of the members on this list (most of whom own Charlottesville farms) Poe died penniless and alone in Baltimore; the life of an avant garde artist.

Eduardo Montes-Bradley, Director, photographer, author
Now a long-time resident of the Ville, award-winning documentarian Eduardo Montes-Bradley grew up in Argentina amidst the political turmoil of the 60s and early 70s before relocating to the U.S. when he was 16. He uses various pen names for different projects. Montes-Bradley dabbled a bit in fiction in the 90s, publishing his last film in that style in 1995 and returning to documentaries in 1997 with a biographical sketch of Osvaldo Soriano, an Argentine journalist and novelist who was exiled from his home country. This eventually grew to become his signature style; indeed Montes-Bradley has crafted many of these biographical profiles, covering a wide range of figures in different fields. He’s lived in Charlottesville for a few years now and is at the helm of the Heritage Film Project at UVa. The Heritage Film Project features biographical essays of varying lengths, all about humanists, scientists, and places at the university. The most recent entry in this series is Monroe Hill, a film which traces the historical context of James Monroe’s first home on land in Albemarle County, and the thirty-year overhaul which led to the estate becoming the center of UVa. It premiered at the Virginia Film Festival earlier this year. He also did a profile of another member on this list, the poet Rita Dove entitled Rita Dove: An American Poet. It talks about the poet’s formative years and details her career in eleven parts including a “prologue” and “epilogue.” This is similar to the formal structure that Dove prefers, evident in her later works. He also contributes heavily to the Writers Made in Brazil series which profiles Brazilian authors, and the Argentine Writers Collection which does the same for Argentine authors. Of these, his film Harto the Borges is quite notable. It’s a documentary on the poet Jorge Luis Borges and includes a rare TV interview with the author. Eduardo Montes-Bradley’s work is also consistently featured in the Virginia Film Festival. Doing Cville proud, to be sure.

Rita Dove, Poet
Rita Dove is deft and versatile. Besides the throwaway designation of “contemporary poetry,” her work really does defy categorization with its breadth and scope. She writes on a variety of topics, some historical, some related to the black experience, some transcendent ideas of maternity, family, the human memory, and love. She is the first African-American Poet Laureate (Robert Hayden held the title before they changed the name), and she’s also a Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her work is very aware and definitely addresses subjects that aren’t very easy to discuss, like bodies and body image. As far as Charlottesville goes, she started teaching here in 1993 and has held the chair of the Commonwealth Professor of English since then. On Grounds (the Charlottesville word for “campus”) she is known for being friendly and approachable, especially with regards to English students, to whom she gives thoughtful, constructive advice. She and her husband Fred Viebahn, a German writer live together outside Charlottesville, on land in Albemarle County.

Chris Long, Pro NFL Defensive End
It was tough to decide between writing about pro Hall of Famer Howie Long or his son Chris, but only one of these men has a Little John’s sub which bears his name, and upon that consideration, the choice was much easier. Chris had some big shoes to fill, but he appears to be doing just fine as the second overall draft pick for the St. Louis Rams in the 2008 NFL Draft. He attended St. Anne’s-Belfield, an independent K-12 day school on 49 acres of land in Charlottesville. In addition to football, he played basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. He matriculated at UVa in 2004 and quickly matured into one of the premier defensive forces in the country, ending his college career all-ACC honors, as team captain, and with 8.3 tackles per game…did we mention they named a sandwich after him? On the Rams, his sheer athleticism is utilized as both defensive end and linebacker, and he got his first sack ever against N.Y. Giants QB Eli Manning. To our knowledge, Eli Manning does not have a sandwich named after him. Manning could not be reached for further comment.

Rob Lowe, Actor
Rob Lowe is a Charlottesville native, born here while his father was attending UVa’s law school. From there it was Dayton, Ohio, Malibu, California, and the life of an actor. His breakout role was in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, and he went on to cultivate a pretty successful career on both screens. Everyone remembers his role in The West Wing; he played Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn, who starts out as the main protagonist of the series for the first few seasons until Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet character took over the focus of the show. He was also in Brothers and Sisters, and more recently he’s enjoyed a resurgence of popularity after being cast as the high-energy Chris Traeger in NBC’s hit show Parks and Recreations. Not bad for a guy who spent his early years crawling around Charlottesville in his poopy diapers.

Charlottesville Star Power: A Few Famous Friends

The land in the Charlottesville area is fertile ground for more than a few special individuals. Besides being home to U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe (who are, by the way not included in this list, as we’re trying to keep it to the last hundred years or so), the central Virginia farms and towns in the area helped foster some genuine talent. You’ll definitely recognize some of these names, and some you may not, but each one has touched Cville at some point in their life.

Dave Matthews, Singer-Songwriter, Vineyard Owner
If you’re a music fan, you probably saw this one coming. But we simply had to mention Dave, for a few reasons. Born in South Africa, the two-time Grammy Award-Winning singer/songwriter moved to Charlottesville in 1986 where he soon became part of the local music scene. And it was quite local at that time; since then, Charlottesville has acquired a handful of key venues and regularly attracts nationally-touring acts passing through the east coast. This is in no small part due to Dave, who started the Dave Matthews Band in 1991 with Cville musicians LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, and others. Their first show was that year at Trax, a now-defunct music venue downtown. Dave was a Charlottesville fixture during this time, working at the bar Miller’s downtown and collaborating with notable musicians like guitarist Tim Reynolds and trumpeter John D’earth. He and the Dave Matthews Band soon propelled to superstardom, selling millions of records and playing to sold out crowds in arenas. A testament to his love for the area: in 1999, he bought more than ten acres of land in Albemarle County, Blenheim Vineyards. It’s situated within both the Virginia and Monticello viticultural regions, and Dave wanted to preserve a piece of local history. And the wine is good, too.

Charles Wright, Poet, Professor

To be fair, the current United States Poet Laureate was not born or raised in Charlottesville. He was born in Tennessee, educated at Davidson, the University of Iowa, and schools in Rome. But he’s become a fixture, celebrated by English students at the University of Virginia. In between, he’s managed to craft some of the most compelling poems in the contemporary canon, interspersing Southern landscapes with everyday ruminations on the nature of life and God. Before becoming Poet Laureate last year, he had received almost every other conceivable honor, from Pulitzer to National Book Award to the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. To hear him talk about the latest honor displays his humility. To follow in the footsteps of literary giants like Edgar Allen Poe and William Faulkner (the latter counted among one of Wright’s early influences), he is one of the greatest minds to land in the city of Charlottesville. And unlike Edgar Allen Poe, he stayed here!

Tina Fey
From humble beginnings in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Tina Fey has emerged as one of the brightest voices in modern comedy. We don’t want to brag, but we like to think it was her time studying playwriting and acting at the University of Virginia in the early 90s. She didn’t stay and make her home in Charlottesville though…she went on to hone her craft in Chicago’s Second City. While in Chicago, she wrote and submitted several scripts for Saturday Night Live, leading to her career as a writer on the show. She penned several great skits and eventually became the show’s first female head writer in 1999. She started appearing in the show’s Weekend Update alongside co-host Jimmy Fallon and later Amy Poehler; she’s still remembered for her classic impression of Governor Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election. She also wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan. Fey’s magnum opus was arguably starring in and writing the hit NBC show 30 Rock alongside Alec Baldwin, Chris Parnell, Tracy Morgan and several other hilarious individuals. 30 Rock is, in this writer’s opinion one of the best primetime comedy shows in recent history, maybe since Seinfeld. The show’s trademarks, its wit and its caustic, self-aware humor made it a breath of fresh air at the time and have inspired many other shows. In 2013, Tina came back to the Charlottesville area to be the inaugural presidential speaker for the arts. Tina on UVA’s website before the speech: “I am very excited to come back to Charlottesville to participate in the President’s Speaker Series for the Arts in September,” Fey said. “When I left Charlottesville in the early ’90s, there was a large sign on Route 29 that said, ‘The bagels are coming!’ Did that ever happen?” It did, Tina…it did.

William Faulkner
One of America’s most celebrated authors, William Faulkner came to Charlottesville in 1957, serving as the Writer-in-Residence for two years and teaching until his death in 1962. It was the end of an illustrious career, one of the greatest in American history. Publishing The Sound and the Fury in 1929, he was writing at the cusp of modernity in English literature; he and his contemporaries were reinventing the form and structure, the shape and scope of the novel. His work played with temporality, using non-linear plotlines and a splintered, stream-of-conscious narrative technique. He grew up in Lafayette, Mississippi and as such, his writing is filled with themes and characters that reflect the Southern United States, including the burden of history stemming from the destructive Civil War. Faulkner is the spokesperson for the Southern Renaissance of literature in the period after the First World War.

Sissy Spacek
Born in Texas, Mary Elizabeth “Sissy” Spacek currently calls Charlottesville home after a rich and illustrious career in film. Her farm in Albemarle County is the perfect place for a star with her type of personality; indeed, she has a significant aversion to the public eye, preferring to hover over the spotlight, leaving the tabloids for more attention-seeking folk. Her early breakout role was that of a telekinetic, often-bullied teenager in Brian DePalma’s Carrie. She is also celebrated for her role as country music legend Loretta Lynn in 1980’s The Coal Miner’s Daughter, which netted her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Legend has it Lynn herself chose Spacek for the role. Little is known about Spacek’s private life, but she must love her farm in Albemarle County…she’s been here since 1982!

Ralph Sampson
We’ve got a soft spot for UVa basketball, especially with the overwhelming success of the men’s team in recent years. But it’s hard to talk about basketball here in Charlottesville without mentioning Ralph Sampson, one of the most dominant and versatile centers in college basketball history. At a towering 7-foot-4 inches, Sampson led the Cavaliers to an NIT title in 1980, a Final Four appearance in 1981, and an Elite Eight appearance in ‘83. He was a phenom, both tall and dominating but also lithe and agile. He was drafted first in the NBA draft of 1983, although the peak of his career came during his days at UVa, where he was College Player of the Year three separate times. And he has a sandwich named for him at Little John’s. Not bad Ralph.