The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy

Shelby Foote
Walker Percy
Jay Tolson

In the late 1940s, Walker Percy and Shelby Foote, friends since their teenage years in Greenville, Mississippi, began a correspondence that would last until Percy’s death in 1990. Their letters provide a rich record of an enduring literary and personal friendship. Walker Percy, winner of the National Book Award, wrote six novels and two volumes of philosophical writing. Shelby Foote’s reputation rests less on his five works of fiction than his massive three-volume narrative history of the Civil War that he started in the early 1950s and completed in 1974. In their letters Percy and Foote openly discuss their ambitions, artistic doubts, and personal problems with intelligence, good-natured ribbing, and a large dose of self-mockery.

Finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award

“Name me, if you can, another pair of writers whose friendship lasted 60 years, overcoming such ordinary pressures as geographical distance and differences of mind, and surviving even that most unbearable stress, the success of the other.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A wonderful book . . . essential reading.”
The Washington Post Book World

“This is a vivid portrait. . . . Spontaneity sparkles everywhere in the letters; they don’t read as if a New York editor is peering over the writer’s shoulder.”
The Boston Globe

“An indispensable book.” —Chicago Tribune “Jay Tolson’s impeccably edited collection of Foote and Percy’s letters . . . reveals the intricate ties that bound these two men together. . . . At times witty and chatty, the letters more significantly speak to and about both writers’ tortuous quests for personal happiness, spiritual fulfillment (particularly Percy), and artistic achievement.”
Virginia Quarterly Review

“Required reading: forceful, poignant instructive.”

The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy
Photographs throughout
W. W. Norton and DoubleTake Books of the Center for Documentary Studies
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