Portraits from Our Past:
Southwest Virginia Authors
Adriana Trigiani

Filled with big-time eccentrics and small-town shenanigans, Big Stone Gap is a jewel box of original characters" - that is … the best-selling book of Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, not to be confused with the town itself. However, the author draws upon her experiences growing up in the town as the backdrop for the book and its sequel Big Cherry Hollow.

Trigiani moved to Big Stone Gap in 1967 with her large Italian family. She loved reading as a little girl and always dreamed of being a writer. She attended Notre Dame/St. Mary's College in Indiana where she was a theater major. There she immersed herself in English, Shakespeare, and the classics. Plays became the central focus of her writing. After graduation, Trigiani moved to New York and founded The Outcasts, an all girl comedy troupe and she made her off-Broadway debut as a playwright in 1985. Trigiani wrote Secrets of the Lava Lamp for the Manhattan Theatre Club. She has won numerous awards for her plays. Trigiani began writing and producing television situation comedies in 1988. These have included The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Good Sports. She was executive producer and head writer for the Jim Henson television production Citykids.

Described by Random House as "A wholesome Cinderella story with a winning blend of '70s nostalgia and Appalachian local color, Trigiani's fictional account of Ave Maria Mulligan's life in Big Stone Gap takes place against a colorful, detailed tour of Big Stone Gap's history and attractions. Some of these attractions include: The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama, the Mutual Pharmacy, and the Southwest Virginia Museum. Big Cherry Hollow, the sequel to Big Stone Gap, follows Ave Maria Mulligan from the mountains of Southwest Virginia to Italy. Ave Maria is forced to confront what is truly important to her. The mountain walls that have protected her all her life can not spare Ave Maria the life lessons she must learn.

In a recent speech to graduates of The University of Virginia's College at Wise, Adriana Trigiani encouraged graduates to "find the thing you love to do." Trigiani certainly has taken her childhood love and followed her dream. Continue to follow Adriana's dreams in her new book Milk Glass Moon, which is currently in publication.


The Southwest Virginia Museum is a member of the American
Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Virginia Association of Museums.