Monday, October 1, 2012

Virginia Dare in Fact and Fancy

The Virginia Dare Room at UNCG is 75 years old this year.  The child for whom it is named was born 425 years ago.  “Why not celebrate both?” we asked as we proposed the free program to be offered November 8 at 4 p.m. at the Alumni House on the UNCG campus.

Virginia Dare is a historical figure dimly remembered more than 400 years after her birth. She was the first English child born on American soil, part of the disastrous Lost Colony of Sir Walter Raleigh which disappeared into a shroud of mystery shortly after she was born. A close scrutiny of new research in archaeology and dendrochronology has revealed new theories that may result in a solution to the mystery before long. More than that, however, the tangle of legends, oral histories, Native American connections, and even pop culture that have built around Virginia Dare over four centuries are astonishing, entertaining, and even amusing. In this program, Marjorie Hudson explores new research and old legends, from the uncovering of the Kendall ring to her discovery of pop culture items on E-bay and her collection of “Virginia Dare” autographs from living persons named for a child shrouded in mystery.

This project is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Hudson is one of the Council’s “Road Scholars.”

Marjorie Hudson is the author of Searching for Virginia Dare, a personal journey into the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke Colony. Written in a “mosaic” form, and recommended by North Carolina Libraries, Tar Heel Junior Historian, North Carolina Literary Review, and Our State, the book gained national attention as a selection of Book Women Readers ont eh Road.  Hudson’s essays, short stories, and poems explore themes of loss, conflict, and a yearning for community deeply threaded through American history and contemporary life. Two recent stories won Pushcart Special Mentions, and her essay “Sufi Dancing With Dad” is featured in the anthology Scorched in the Birthing: Women Respond to War. Her latest book is Accidental Birds of the Carolinas, a collection of short stories. Her writing and teaching have garnered many awards and honors. In 2000 she was recipient of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Award, North Carolina Artist-Educator of the Year. She was director of the George Moses Horton Project and Jubilee in 2000, and she holds degrees from American University and Warren Wilson College.