Collections and Resources, Exhibits, North Carolina Collection, Special Collections

Set in the Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill Through Authors’ Eyes


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Set in the Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill Through Authors’ Eyes
North Carolina Collection Gallery
Wilson Special Collections Library
June 20 – Oct. 2, 2016
Free and open to the public
(919) 962-3765 or

Chapel Hill has long been a haven for writers. Now, an exhibition in UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library looks at another aspect of local literary tradition: the town as it appears in novels, stories, and memoirs.

Set in the Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill Through Authors’ Eyes features 35 books by both professional and amateur writers. Included are historical accounts, short stories, mysteries, and even a fantasy-tinged romance with scenes that take place in Gimghoul Castle.

“The only criterion for inclusion is that the book be set in or be about Chapel Hill,” said Rachel Reynolds, Wilson Library’s exhibitions coordinator.

The exhibition title—and one of Chapel Hill’s most beloved nicknames—comes from William Meade Prince’s 1950 memoir, The Southern Part of Heaven. An original edition of Prince’s book is on view, as are literary classics such as Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel and lesser-known works such as Diana Morgan’s mass-market romance novel, Chapel Hill, featuring a heroine plunged into a coma.

“So many writers have found inspiration at Chapel Hill, and each one has managed to capture something entirely unique,” said Reynolds.

All of the books come from Wilson Library’s North Carolina Collection. With more than 300,000 books and pamphlets, along with photographs, microforms, and maps, the North Carolina Collection is the nation’s largest collection of library materials focused on a single state.

The exhibition also includes several archival items from the Southern Historical Collection, such as a letter by George Moses Horton, an enslaved African American who taught himself to read and who composed love poems for students at Chapel Hill.

Historical photographs from the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives round out the exhibition by highlighting places, events, and eras in Chapel Hill’s past.

Set in the Southern Part of Heaven will be on view through Oct. 2. Contact the staff of Wilson Library at (919) 962-3765 for additional information.


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