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

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library

map of the appalachians

Mary R. Furbee

photo of May Rodd Furbee taken from the web

Biographical Information

Mary Rodd Furbee was an author, editor, television producer, and university professor. Furbee earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in journalism from West Virginia University. Living and working in Morgantown, West Virginia, Furbee was the PR/alumni development specialist for the West Virginia School of Journalism as well as a teacher of beat reporting in addition to writing books for children and occasional articles for periodical publication. She has published eight books for young readers, focusing on women in Appalachia and in United States history. Her books focus on stories that inspire-ordinary people who have largely been overlooked by history. The stories she chooses tend to be about women, women who ignored society's rules about "proper" feminine behavior and managed to accomplish great things by being true to themselves. She has written a series of books "Outrageous Women" in history, including Outrageous Women of Colonial America, Outrageous Women of the American Frontier, and Outrageous Women of the Civil War. She has also written the stories of individual women - Nancy Ward and the Cherokee Nation; Anne Bailey: Frontier Scout; Shawnee Captive: The Story of Mary Draper Ingles. Mary Furbee has also written a travel book for adults-The Complete Guide to West Virginia Inns. In addition, Furbee wrote non-fiction columns and articles for various periodical publications, including the Washington Post, The Progressive, and Goldenseal.

Mary Rodd Furbee died April 22, 2004.

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Critical Responses

Mary Furbee's books for young readers have been praised for their historical accuracy, lively writing, and the way in which women and their parts in history come alive in her capable hands. Writing about Indian Captive for School Library Journal, Linda Greengrass remarks

The workmanlike text tries hard to avoid biased language, although Furbee does not shrink from reflecting the attitudes toward Native Americans held by Ingles, her family, and friends. Fairly gruesome events are described, but they are neither sensationalized or glossed over. The narrative does present the subjects' feelings and thoughts from time to time, but conversations are held to a minimum and the effect is to lend texture to what might have otherwise been a rather dry text. The result is both a readable biography of a daring frontier woman and a snapshot of life in pre-Revolutionary America.

Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, writing about Women of the American Revolution, says "the decidedly colorful tone of the writing makes the series a bit more lively than most history." Others praise the way that Furbee brings women back into history-focusing attention on stories not as well known as those of men living in the past. One reader remarked "History is rife with stories of our founding fathers, but what about the women who lived and worked alongside these men?" Furbee tries to rediscover those stories and to tell them in a way that inspires and informs young readers.

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Works Published

Outrageous Women of Colonial America
Outrageous Women of the American Frontier
Outrageous Women of the Civil War
Women of the American Revolution
Shawnee Captive: The Story of Mary Draper Ingles
Anne Bailey: Frontier Scout
Wild Rose: Nancy Ward of the Cherokee
The Importance of Mohandas Gandhi
The Complete Guide to West Virginia Inns

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Selected Bibliography

Bissett, Jim. Untold Stories Find a Voice. The Dominion Post, February 25, 2001.

Feulner, Debbie. Women of the American Revolution (book review). School Library Journal, September 1999. 45(9), 232.

Janssen, Carolyn. Anne Bailey: Frontier Scout (book review). School Library Journal, March 2002. 48(3), 248.

Leslie, Roger. Anne Bailey: Frontier Scout (book review). Booklist, December 1, 2001. 98(7), 637.

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Author Website

Mary Rodd Furbee
West Virginia Wesleyan College

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