2011 Teacher Institute Featured Speaker
Robert Hicks, the author of The NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS, The Widow of the South and A Separate Country, was born and raised in South Florida. He moved to Williamson County, Tennessee in 1974 and lives near the Bingham Community at ‘Labor in Vain,’ his late-eighteenth-century log cabin.
An avid preservationist, he has served on the boards of the Tennessee State Museum, The Williamson County Historical Society, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He presently serves on the board of directors of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and of The Battle of Franklin Trust and Historic Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee.
In December 1997, after a third term as President of the Carnton board, and in light of his years of service to the site, Hicks was named by board resolution: “the driving force in the restoration and preservation of Historic Carnton Plantation.”
He is founding chairman emeritus of Franklin’s Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space in the fight to secure and preserve both battlefield and other historic open space in Williamson County. Franklin’s Charge in partnership with the Civil War Trust took on the massive mission of saving what remains of the eastern flank of the battlefield at Franklin – the largest remaining undeveloped fragment of the battlefield – and turning it into a public battlefield park. The American Battlefield Protection Program has called this endeavor “the largest battlefield reclamation in North American history.” By the end of 2005, Franklin’s Charge had already raised over 5 million dollars toward this goal, surpassing anything ever done within any other community in America to preserve battlefield open space. As Jim Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust has said, “There is no ‘close second’ in any community in America, to what Franklin’s Charge has done in Franklin.” Hicks serves as a commissioner to plan out the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War in Tennessee.
His first novel, THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH (Warner Books, NY, 2005) was born out of his many years of work at Carnton and his passion for the preservation of the remaining fragments of the battlefield. In writing the novel, his hope was to bring national attention back to this moment in our nation’s history, the impact those five bloody hours played in making us a nation, and in the preservation of the sites tied to the story. THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH was launched September 1, 2005 to overwhelming critical success, entering the NY TIMES BESTSELLER LIST after only one week out.
In December 2005, the Nashville Tennessean named him ‘Tennessean of the Year’ for the impact THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH has had on Tennessee, heritage tourism and preservation.
As a writer, his essays on regional history, southern material culture, furniture and music have appeared in numerous publications over the years. Hicks writes opt-eds for the NEW YORK TIMES on contemporary politics in the South.
He travels, throughout the nation, speaking on a variety of topics ranging from Why The Civil War Matters to The Importance of Fiction in Preserving History to Southern Material Culture to A Model for the Preservation of Historic Open Space for Every Community and a host of other topics.
His first book, collaboration with French-American photographer Michel Arnaud, came out in 2000: Nashville: the Pilgrims of Guitar Town (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).
He is co-editor (with Justin Stelter and John Bohlinger) of a collection of short stories; A Guitar and A Pen: Short Stories and Story-Songs By Nashville Songwriters (Center Street Books/Hachette, North America) was released in April 2008.
His second novel, A Separate Country (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette/North America) was released in September 2009 to overwhelming critical acclaim.