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.

SoLit Alliance will hold a virtual event on October 8th at 7:00 PM EST to present the award.  Roy will take this time to showcase his work and discuss his outstanding career with us.

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. 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:

  • 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.



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