In 1587 America’s first English child was born in a remote island wilderness. Her name was Virginia Dare. Soon after her birth, Virginia and more than a hundred men, women, and children disappeared, leaving a cryptic message carved on a tree.
What became of that infant girl and her people, now known as the Lost Colony? In search of an answer, Marjorie Hudson wanders the back roads of North Carolina and Virginia in an aging Dodge Caravan with a satchel of research notes and a head full of memory and imagining. Amazed by abandoned farmhouses wrapped in kudzu, the Great Dismal Swamp “dripping with spotted snakes,” the bones of the Jamestown colony, and the living nation of the Lumbee, Hudson discovers an epic story more complex and more deeply moving than she ever imagined.
Weaving research and interview, memory and imagination, Hudson’s tale is a spellbinding journey, an invitation to deep mysteries that lurk in the history of America and in ourselves.
Accidental Birds of the Carolinas
by Marjorie Hudson
9 x 6 paperback
Honorable Mention Winner: The PEN/Hemingway Award
A Novello Literary Award Finalist
Marjorie Hudson was born in a small town in Illinois, grew up in Washington, D.C., and now writes and lives in Chatham County, North Carolina. She is author of Searching for Virginia Dare, a North Carolina Arts Council Notable Book, also from Press 53. Hudson has worked as Features Editor of National Parks magazine, Contributing Editor of American Land Forum, and Copyediting Chief of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. She has contributed essays, fiction, and poetry to many magazines and literary journals, including Garden & Gun, Wildlife in North Carolina, Story, North Carolina Literary Review, Storyteller, The Rambler, Yankee, and West Branch. Hudson’s honors include residencies at Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers (Whidbey Island, Wa.), and Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, Ca.), a Blumenthal Readers and Writers Award, and the Sarah Belk Gambrell Artist Educator of the Year Award. Two of her stories have been Pushcart Prize Special Mentions, and her work has been anthologized in What Doesn’t Kill You... (ed., Murray Dunlap & Kevin Morgan Watson), Scorched in the Birthing: Women Speak to War (ed., MariJo Moore), Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas (ed., Anne Wicker), and Topograph: New Writing from the Carolinas and the Landscape Beyond (ed., Jeff Jackson). Hudson is a graduate of American University and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has led workshops and lectured at many colleges and universities, including Duke University Center for Documentary Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill Creative Writing Department, East Carolina University Masters of Creative Writing Program, and University of Alaska-Anchorage MFA program. She works for Chatham County Together!, a youth mentoring organization, lectures for the North Carolina Humanities Council’s Road Scholars speakers bureau, and teaches at Central Carolina Community College Creative Writing Program as well as privately through her own Kitchen Table Workshops.
“Hudson’s prose is pure as birdsong.These fine stories of change and discovery are a field guide to the human species in transition.”
— Doris Betts, author of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Souls Raised from the Dead
"These are truly great stories…each voice so distinct, each “bird” so lost, so misplaced, so in need of someone to listen to their calls, their natural music.”
— Susan Ketchin, author of The Christ-Haunted Landscape
“The journeys of these lost characters overlap and echo back in ways that leave the reader both heartbroken and uplifted.”
— Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes
" 'It takes no time at all to fall in love with such a place, if you are paying attention,' says Elizabeth in the first of these seven extraordinary stories (and one novella). The same can be said for this collection: Pay attention and you will fall in love."
— Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
“A fiction writer of considerable craft, and her interplay of personality, nature and fate brings Thomas Hardy to mind.”
— Ben Steelman, Wilmington Star-News
Emma Skurnick lives on the banks of the Haw River in Bynum, North Carolina. After taking rambling walks beside that shallow body of water, she returns to her studio to paint—often creating portraits of the plants and animals she has encountered. Trained as a scientific illustrator, she has lately drifted towards infusing her art with a bit of wry storytelling. By granting her portrait subjects personality and humor, she hopes to impel the viewer to slow down and consider the beings with whom we share our space.
Searching for Virginia Dare
by Marjorie Hudson
9 x 6 paperback
“An absorbing, intelligent consideration of national and personal identity, beautifully written.”
— Lee Smith
“A fantastic weave of wit and observation, of careful investigation and scrutiny of sources, mingled with a personal narrative of a Yankee come South. . . .”
— The People’s Civic Record
“Hudson has invented a new genre, a sort of parting of the authorial curtain to reveal . . . the commonalities that bind both author and reader to someone of another place and time”
— Chapel Hill Herald
“[Hudson] set off on the cold trail [of Virginia Dare] like a determined bloodhound . . . and stirred up the ghosts of our first settlers, four centuries old.”
— Durham Herald-Sun
“Hudson’s writing is so strong, so immediate, you feel as if you’re right there in the passenger seat . . .”
— Southern Pines Pilot
“Hudson has written the book that I would have liked to have written. … What is the lens that ultimately shapes Hudson’s story? It is the importance of loss, as much as of success, to the human experience.”
— Dr. E. Thomson Shields, Director, Roanoke Colonies Research Office, in North Carolina Literary Review
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
Like birds blown off course in a great storm, the characters in these connected stories need a place to roost—a place to settle long enough to learn the secrets of their own hearts. They find that place in fictional Ambler County, North Carolina, by the banks of the Sissipahaw River. From a heartbroken city girl to a runaway bride, from an old-timer with regrets to a Yankee retiree, from a New Age farmer to an African American midwife, from an English explorer to an Eno Indian —all are looking for a way to connect, a way to heal, a way home.
Press 53 is located at
The Community Arts Cafe
411 W. Fourth St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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