Pirate's Alley Faulkner SocietyWords & Music

John Shelton Reed

Southern Culture expert John Shetlon Reed as Mint Julep Mixologist

Author of

Dixie Bohemia:

A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s

Faulkner and the Writers, Artists, Poseurs, and Hangers-On of Bohemian New Orleans

“An informed and delightful addition for anyone who has ever lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans, or has felt the thrill of brushing against bohemia in any of its other hatcheries.”
—Andrei Codrescu, author of
Whatever Gets You through the Night

About the Author

John Shelton Reed, author of the new book, Dixie Bohemia, released recently by LSU Press, is William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  At Carolina he was director of the Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science for 12 years and is a founder of UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South.  Reed grew up in Kingsport, TN, did his undergraduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University before going to Chapel Hill in 1969. The 19 books he has written or edited include 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South and Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, both written with his wife, Dale Volberg Reed. His articles have appeared in journals ranging from Science to Southern Living and he was founding co-editor of the quarterly Southern Cultures. A Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the National Humanities Center, and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, he has lectured at more than 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, including a number of universities in India as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, and he has held visiting positions at many institutions, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London, St. Antony's College and All Souls College, Oxford University, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, and the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and he spent 1996-97 at Cambridge as the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions and Fellow of St Catharine's College. In 2007, he was the Mark Clark Visiting Professor at The Citadel, with a commission as lieutenant colonel in the Unorganized Militia of South Carolina, has been president of the Southern Sociological Society and the Southern Association for Public Opinion Research, and was appointed by President Reagan to the council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to other prizes, honorary degrees, and awards, He recently served as chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. A consultant to Southern Living, Quaker Grits, the Turner South cable network, and the musical comedy Kudzu, he also has judged the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and his country song "My Tears Spoiled My Aim" was recorded recently by Tommy Edwards. He is the only sociologist to be included in Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor. Dixie Bohemiais based on the 72nd series of Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History at Louisiana State University, which he delivered in 2011.


About the Book

In the years following World War I, the New Orleans French Quarter attracted artists and writers with its low rents, faded charm, and colorful street life. By the 1920s Jackson Square had become the center of a vibrant if short-lived bohemia. A young William Faulkner and his roommate William Spratling, an architect, artist, and Tulane Professor resided among the “artful and crafty ones of the French Quarter.” In Dixie BohemiaJohn Shelton Reed introduces Faulkner’s circle of friends—ranging from the distinguished Sherwood Anderson to a gender-bending Mardi Gras costume designer.
Reed begins with Faulkner and Spratling’s self-published homage to their fellow bohemians, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles. The book contains 43 sketches of New Orleans artists, by Spratling, with captions and a short introduction by Faulkner. The title served as a rather obscure joke: Sherwood was not a Creole and neither were most of the people featured. But with Reed’s commentary, these profiles serve as an entry into the world of artists and writers that dined on Decatur Street, attended masked balls, and blatantly ignored the Prohibition Act. These men and women also helped to establish New Orleans institutions such as the Double Dealer literary magazine and Le Petit Theatre. The positive developments from this French Quarter renaissance attracted attention and visitors, inspiring the historic preservation and commercial revitalization that turned the area into a tourist destination. Predictably, this gentrification drove out many of the working artists and writers who had helped revive the area. Today, artists and writers are returning to the Quarter and the adjacent neighborhoods of Treme and Marigny.

For a great review of the book by Chris Waddington of The Times-Picayune, go to:


Faulkner Society events are made possible in part by important support from The Arts Council of New Orleans, the City of New Orleans, and the Decentralized Arts Funding Program of The Louisiana Division of the Arts; the J. J. and Dr. Donald Dooley Fund and administrator, Samuel L. Steele, III; Bertie Deming Smith and the Deming Foundation; the Hearst Corporation and Debra Shriver, Vice President; the Law Firm of Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles;Dorignac's & Butch Steadman; the English Speaking Union; Rosemary James, Joseph DeSalvo and Faulkner House, Inc; Randy Fertel and The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation; Arthur & Mary Davis, Quint Davis, and Pam Friedler; Alexa Georges; the Louisiana State Museum; Elizabeth McKinley; Hotel Monteleone; Mr. & Mrs. Hartwig Moss, III; Theodosia M. Nolan, Tia and James Roddy, and Peter Tattersall; Parkside Foundation; Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre; Anne and Ron Pincus; Other Press, a Division of Random House; E. Quinn Peeper and Michael Harold; Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture: Nancy Cater, Editor; the State Library of Louisiana; Judith "Jude" Swenson in memory of her late husband, James Swenson.

Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society
624 Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116
phone: (504) 586-1609 or (504) 525-5615
fax: (504) 522-9725
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