Portraits from Our Past:
Southwest Virginia Authors
John Fox, Jr. (1862 - 1919)


John Fox, Jr. is well known for his intertwining of local color and history into works of fiction about life in the Appalachian Mountains. Born on December 16, 1862, at Stony Point, Kentucky, Fox spent his early years in the "Bluegrass" region of Kentucky where he was educated at home by his father. Fox entered Transylvania College at age 15 and after two years there, he entered Harvard University where he graduated Cum Laude in 1883. Then after a brief enrollment at Columbia University Law School, Fox worked at several New York newspapers including The Sun and The New York Times.

John Fox, Jr. returned to Kentucky in 1885 and joined his brother, James, in his interests in coal mines near Jellico, Tennessee. This time with his brother would shape the rest of his life in several ways. First, John became heavily involved with his family's business speculations and remained so until his death. Secondly, while in Jellico, Fox became acquainted with the mountains and the mountain people which laid the ground work for some of his stories. This lead to him writing his first mountain story. He showed the story to both his brother and a friend, Kentucky writer James Lane Allen, both of whom strongly encouraged him to continue to write.

The family's business speculations brought them to Big Stone Gap in 1890. It was here that John Fox, Jr. began to publish his fiction based upon the Cumberland Plateau areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. His first short stories and novellas were A Mountain Europa (1892), A Cumberland Vendetta (1894), and Hell Fer Sartain (1897). When the War with Spain came, he became a war-correspondent for Harpers Magazine. He also was a war correspondent for Scribner's during the Russo-Japanese War. After which, he wrote about Japan in Following The Sun Flag which is considered a rare book today. Fox became best known for his 1903 novel The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine published in 1908.  In all, John Fox, Jr.  published 12 novels and 48 short stories.


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