The journals of Chattanooga-area author Emma Bell Miles (1879-1919) have been published in a book edited by a UTC librarian, Steven Cox. Once I Too Had Wings: The Journals of Emma Bell Miles, 1908–1918, is the title of the book, which was published this spring by Ohio University Press.
Emma Bell Miles is known and loved for her 1905 book, Spirit of the Mountains, a collection of local color essays about mountaineer life (primarily southeast Tennessee) written with an insider’s perspective and the curiosity of an outsider.
Raised by educators, she was groomed to be an artist and attended art school in St. Louis. She fell in love with and married Frank Miles and they lived on Walden’s Ridge, Tenn. During their time together, Emma and Frank’s family relied on her writing (stories and poems for the likes of Harper’s Monthly, Lippincott’s and Chattanooga publications) and her artwork (postcards and sketches for the tourist trade) to survive. Winters were often “close to the bone,” as she writes in the journals.
Grace Toney Edwards, a retired professor of Appalachian Studies and English at Radford University, says that, “Steven Cox’s choices from Miles’s personal writings reveal powerful insights of a woman who lived, loved, absorbed, and recorded her place more than 100 years past.”
In 2000, Emma Bell Miles’s papers, photos, and artwork were donated to the Lupton Library at UTC, where Mr. Cox is head of special collections and archives. Once I Too Had Wings emerged from that donation.
Mr. Cox will talk about the book and sell copies at a June 5 event at Signal Mountain Library. For further information, contact the library at 886-7323.
The paperback edition of Once I Too Had Wings is 352 pages. The book comes with 17 black and white illustrations and has a list price of $28.95. It is available through request at booksellers and also online.