Barnett Prize for Local Distinguished Author Announced

Southern Lit Alliance is please to announce 2020's winner of the Barnett Prize for Local Distinguished Author, Roy Morris Jr., for his book Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain (Simon & Schuster, 2010).


SoLit Alliance presents annually an award to recognize an outstanding local author.  Called the Barnett Prize for Local Distinguished Author, the award is given based upon an author's demonstrated lifetime work awards, other reviews, and the quality of their writing in their submitted sample.  Nominees can work in the various genres of fiction, non-fiction, short story or poetry, but must reside in Hamilton or the contiguous counties of Sequatchie, Marion, Rhea, Meigs, Bradley counties in Tennessee. Eligible Georgia authors must reside in Catoosa, Walker or Dade counties. The Barnett Prize is offered through the generosity of Warren Barnett, art philanthropist and President of Barnett & Company.

We will hold a virtual event Oct. 8th at 7:00 PM on Facebook Live.  Roy will discuss his latest book, Gertrude Stein Has Arrived.

For more information or questions, contact Lynda LeVan at


The Barnett Prize designed and created by local sculptor, Isaac Duncan.
About the 2020 Winner
roy morris jr.  photo (1).jpg

Roy Morris Jr. is pictured here.


Roy Morris Jr. began his career with a Bachelor's of Arts from UT-Chattanooga, and a Master's from UT-Knoxville.  He started out as a staff writer in 1972 for the Chattanooga News--Free Press, before moving on to the Chattanooga Times (the first person to do so after the two newspapers ended their joint publication agreement).  He has published nine books on American history and literature, the most recent being Gertrude Stein Has Arrived: The Homecoming of a Literary Legend (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019).  A selection of Morris Jr.'s books includes:

  • Gertrude Stein Has Arrived (John Hopkins University Press, 2019)

  • American Vandal: Mark Twain Abroad (Harvard University Press, 2015)

  • The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America (Smithsonian Books, 2008)

  • Seeking a Voice: Images of Race and Gender in the 19th Century Press, ed. (Purdue University Press, 2009)

  • The Devil's Dictionary, ed. (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Roy has also contributed writing to such prestigious publications as Huffington Post, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New Criterion.  He is currently a contributing editor to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and resides in North Chattanooga with his wife, Leslie, and their mixed-breed terrier, Duncan.

Gertrude Stein Has Arrived:  The Homecoming of A Literary Legend

In the summer of 1933, writer and expat Gertrude Stein achieved notoriety and fame with her unlikely bestseller, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  Pantomiming the voice of her partner, Gertrude was the actual author of the book, and her prose won over thousands of readers--so much so, that Stein and her partner were convinced to return to their home country of America for the first time in over 30 years, for an unprecedented book tour.


For over six months, Stein and Toklas toured America, wining and dining with the best, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Charlie Chaplin.  They enjoyed fifty-yard-line seats at the annual Yale-Dartmouth football game, rode alongside a cop throughout the streets of Chicago, and enjoyed Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans.  No matter where they went or who they encountered, they were always treated like rockstars.


With his characteristic wit and energy, Roy Morris Jr. recounts the couple's rollicking tour of the States, revealing how, much to Stein and Toklas's surprise, they rediscovered their roots after living abroad for three decades.  An entertaining and sympathetic read, Gertrude Stein Has Arrived celebrates Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice for the legends that they were.