Remembering Ann Head: Beaufort's Forgotten Writer
Writer Ann Head, the pen name of Anne Wales Christensen Head Morse (19151968), was the granddaughter of Abbie Holmes Christensen, who came to Beaufort during the Civil War to educate the recently freed enslaved populations of the sea islands. Moving back and forth between Boston and Beaufort, Ann carried on the family tradition of bucking traditions and creating new literary forms.
First married to the inventor Howard Head, Ann published dozens of short stories and serials in the major national magazines of her day, with many of her stories set in a small town just like Beaufort. She wrote of divorce, snobbery, affairs both emotional and sexual, prejudice, death, and out-of-wedlock childbirth, championing the nontypical heroines of the ladies magazines that eagerly accepted her work. In addition, she authored four novels which were published internationally, most notably Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, a compelling story of teen pregnancy which was later adapted for film starring Desi Arnez Jr. and is credited with helping create the Young Adult genre.
Ann was also Pat Conroys first creative writing teacher at Beaufort High School and she became a central figure in Beauforts literary scene, befriending many of the famous authors who wintered here, including Samuel Hopkins Adams (whom she considered her mentor), Somerset Maugham, John Marquand, and Katherine and E. B. White.
In conservative Beaufort, Ann championed civil rights and other liberal causes, and was a doyenne of local society, celebrated for her sophistication and literary achievement. She managed to successfully raise an out-of-wedlock child, eventually marrying the childs father, all the while staying respected and revered in small-town society. Ann died suddenly at the age of 52, cutting short a vibrant life and promising literary career.
Anns daughter Nancy Thode, a writer, actress, and family counselor, will share her mothers intriguing and colorful life through photos, personal stories, and writing excerpts, including unpublished letters from Pat Conroys college years at The Citadel. Ann Head comes vibrantly to life in this discussion of a rising literary star who defied the conventions of southern womanhood, and who in turn mentored young Conroy, who would later upend the expectations of southern manhood. Both writers found a muse in their adopted hometown of Beaufort, and here in lowcountry, Ann Heads story will finally be told.
Beaufort County Library - Main Branch (View)
311 Scott Street
Beaufort, SC 29902
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