57 Facts About Shelby Foote


Shelby Foote's paternal great-grandfather, Hezekiah William Foote, was an American Confederate veteran, attorney, planter and state politician from Mississippi.


Shelby Foote's maternal grandfather was a Jewish immigrant from Vienna.


Shelby Foote was raised in his father's and maternal grandmother's Episcopal faith, though he attended synagogue each Saturday with his mother until the age of eleven.


Shelby Foote's father died in Mobile when Shelby Foote was five years old; he and his mother moved back to Greenville to live with her sister's family.


Shelby Foote was an only child, and his mother never remarried.


Shelby Foote began a lifelong fraternal and literary relationship with Walker; each had great influence on the other's writing.


Shelby Foote edited The Pica, the student newspaper of Greenville High School, and frequently used the paper to lampoon the school's principal.

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In 1935, Shelby Foote applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hoping to join with the older Percy boys, but was initially denied admission because of an unfavorable recommendation from his high school principal.


Shelby Foote presented himself for admission anyway, and as result of a round of admissions tests, he was accepted.


Interested more in the process of learning than in earning a degree, Shelby Foote was not a model student.


Shelby Foote often skipped class to explore the library, and once he even spent the night among the shelves.


Shelby Foote began contributing pieces of fiction to Carolina Magazine, UNC's award-winning literary journal.


Shelby Foote returned to Greenville in 1937, where he worked in construction and for a local newspaper, The Delta Democrat Times.


In 1940 Shelby Foote joined the Mississippi National Guard and was commissioned as captain of artillery.


Shelby Foote came back to the United States and took a job with the Associated Press in New York City.


Shelby Foote returned to Greenville and took a job with a local radio station, but he spent most of his time writing.


Shelby Foote sent a section from his first novel to The Saturday Evening Post.


Shelby Foote often expressed great affection for this novel, which was published in 1951.


In Shiloh Shelby Foote foreshadows his use of historical narrative as he tells the story of the bloodiest battle in American history to that point from the first-person perspective of seven different characters.


Later assessments from academic historians have been more mixed: historians Timothy S Huebner and Madeleine M McGrady have argued Foote "favored the South throughout the novel, portraying the Confederate cause as a fight for constitutional liberty and omitting any reference to slavery".


Shelby Foote admitted that writing black characters for the novel "scared the hell out of" him.


Shelby Foote supported school integration, opposed Eisenhower's hands-off approach to Southern racism and openly championed Presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.


Shelby Foote had never been trained in the traditional scholarly standards of academic historical research, which emphasized archives and footnotes.


Shelby Foote read widely, using standard biographies and campaign studies as well as recent books by Hudson Strode, Bruce Catton, James G Randall, Clifford Dowdey, T Harry Williams, Kenneth M Stampp and Allan Nevins.


Shelby Foote did not footnote his secondary sources nor use the archives but instead mined the primary sources in the 128-volume Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

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Shelby Foote worked for several weeks on an outline and decided that his plan couldn't be done to Cerf's specifications.


Shelby Foote requested that the project be expanded to three volumes of 500,000 to 600,000 words each, and he estimated that the entire project would be done in nine years.


Shelby Foote supported himself during the twenty years he worked on the narrative with three Guggenheim Fellowships, Ford Foundation grants, and loans from Walker Percy.


Shelby Foote's work has been accused of reproducing Lost Cause fallacies.


Shelby Foote lauded Nathan Bedford Forrest as "one of the most attractive men who ever walked through the pages of history" and dismissed what he characterized as "propaganda" about Forrest's role in the Fort Pillow Massacre.


Shelby Foote compared Forrest to John Keats and Abraham Lincoln, and suggested that he had tried to prevent the massacre, despite evidence to the contrary.


Shelby Foote had a picture of Forrest hanging on his wall, and believed that "he's an enormously attractive, outgoing man once you get to know him and once you get to know more facts".


Shelby Foote developed new respect for such disparate figures as Ulysses S Grant, William T Sherman, Patrick Cleburne, Edwin Stanton and Jefferson Davis.


Shelby Foote considered United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to be two authentic geniuses of the war.


Shelby Foote was criticized for his lack of interest in more current historical research, and for a less firm grasp of politics than military affairs.


Shelby Foote relied extensively on the work of Hudson Strode, whose sympathy for Lost Cause claims resulted in a portrait of Jefferson Davis as a tragic hero without many of the flaws attributed to him by other historians.


Shelby Foote has been described as writing "from a white Southern perspective, perhaps even with a certain bias": Radical Republicans are portrayed negatively in his work, and the name Frederick Douglass is absent from every volume of his Narrative.


Beyond his sympathies for the Confederacy and the description of marginalization of African-Americans within his works, Shelby Foote retained complex, patriarchal and sympathetic views of African Americans and race relations.


Shelby Foote struggled with drawing on black characters as models for his writing; he was unable to pull from real-world examples of blacks in the 1950s without relying upon outdated stereotypes of blacks.


Shelby Foote served on the Naval Academy Advisory Board in the 1980s.


Shelby Foote was not in this initial group, though Burns had Shelby Foote's trilogy on his reading list.


In November 1986, Shelby Foote figured prominently at a meeting of dozens of consultants gathered to critique Burns' script.


Shelby Foote somehow compared the great emancipator with a man who owned slaves, murdered blacks and joined the Ku Klux Klan.


Many Memphis natives were known to pay Shelby Foote a visit at his East Parkway residence in Midtown Memphis.


In 1992, Shelby Foote received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina.

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Shelby Foote was a member of The Modern Library's editorial board for the re-launch of the series in the mid-1990s, this series published two books excerpted from his Civil War narrative.


Shelby Foote contributed a long introduction to their edition of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage giving a narrative biography of the author.


Shelby Foote received the 1992 St Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates.


Shelby Foote was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994.


Also in 1994, Shelby Foote joined Protect Historic America and was instrumental in opposing a Disney theme park near battlefield sites in Virginia.


On September 2,2001, Shelby Foote was the focus of the C-SPAN television program In-Depth.


Shelby Foote campaigned in the 2001 referendum on the Flag of Mississippi, arguing against a proposal which would have replaced the Confederate battle flag with a blue canton with 20 stars.


In 2003, Foote received the Peggy V Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.


Shelby Foote died at Baptist Hospital in Memphis on June 27,2005, aged 88.


Shelby Foote had had a heart attack after a recent pulmonary embolism.


Shelby Foote's grave is beside the family plot of General Forrest.


Shelby Foote wrote The Civil War, but he never understood it.