Guide to Resources for the Study of West Virginia Authors and Appalachian Literary Traditions

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library

map of the appalachians

Marc Harshman

photo of Marc Harshman taken from the web

Biographical Information

Marc Harshman was born and raised in Randolph County, Indiana, a rural area near Union City. He attended Bethany College, graduating in 1973. He earned a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School in 1975 and Master of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978, pausing in August 1976 to marry librarian and writer Cheryl Ryan. He taught composition and creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia Northern Community College for a few years before moving on to teach grades 5 and 6 for the Marshall County School System.

Harshman is a professional writer and storyteller. He regularly travels throughout the eastern United States, telling stories and honing his craft. As an author, he is known primarily for his picture books for children, but who has also published a collection of poetry. His stories are set primarily in rural West Virginia and Indiana, the areas where he has lived and worked. His first book, A Little Excitement, was published in 1989. It is the story of a little boy named Willie, whose wish for a little excitement to break the monotony of winter farm life is answered in a way he hasn't expected. He has published eight more children's books since then.

Also a poet whose poems have appeared in various periodical publications, Harshman has published one collection of his poetry. Turning Out the Stones was published by State Street Press in 1983. Commenting on his own poetry, Harshman once said:

My poems are frequently narrations spring from specific and local geographies, be they the rural Indiana where I was raised, the West Virginia where I have lived my adult life, or the towns and farms of Canada and England where I have traveled. … The free verse in which I compose is intended to be voiced, to be heard, and is informed by the harmonies and rhythms of traditional verse and pushed toward new hearing by the emotional pressures of the breath itself.

Whether he is writing poetry or stories for children, Harshman never ceases to be a storyteller, using language, both oral and written, to transmit knowledge and heritage, information and imagination.

Harshman and his wife Cheryl Ryan have one daughter, Sarah Jayne. They live in Moundsville, WV.
Marc Harshman can be contacted at:

PO Box 1092
Moundsville, WV 26041.

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Critical Responses

Writing about Marc Harshman, Contemporary Authors commented that "[He] portrays everyday people in folktale-like circumstances, giving his works an air of timelessness." Other critics have also commented on the folk-nature of Harshman's work. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote that A Little Excitement, Harshman's first book for children, was "a genuinely, attractively produced piece of Americana." Writing about Snow Company, the story of a group of strangers sharing shelter from a blizzard, for School Library Journal, Karen James remarked that the book conveyed "a sense of extraordinary events and of sharing history with friends." Commenting on A Little Excitement for Booklist, Denise Wilms perhaps best summed up Marc Harshman's work when she said, "his message is clear but not overbearing."

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Works Published

A Little Excitement
Snow Company
Rocks in My Pockets
Only One
Uncle James
Moving Days
The Storm
When the End of Summer is Near
All the Way to Morning


Turning Out the Stones

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Selected Bibliography

Elsner, Jacqueline. The Storm (book reviews). School Library Journal, July 1995. 41(7), 62.

Fox, Rachel. Rocks in My Pockets (book reviews). School Library Journal, September 1991. 37(9), 233.

Moyer, Patricia S. Communicating Mathematically: Children's Literature as a Natural Connection. The Reading Teacher, November 2000. 54(3), 246.

Peters, John. The Prairie Fire (book review). Booklist, January 1, 2000. p.937.

Piehl, Kathy. Moving Days (book reviews). School Library Journal, October 1994. 40(10), 90.

Segal, Marta. All the Way to Morning (review). Booklist, September 15, 1999. 96(2), 268.

Sidorsky, Phyllis G. A Little Excitement (book reviews). School Library Journal, September 1989. 35(13), 227.

Whitin, David J. Only One (book reviews). Arithmetic Teacher, April 1994. 41(8), 503.

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Author Website

none available
West Virginia Wesleyan College

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