454 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI tribute stayed on the wall until the courthouse was renovated in 1926, when officials saved the section and returned it to the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth. When the Marshall County Museum was chartered in 1970, the Sisters returned the section by car, where it is now on display. Not all citizens of Holly Springs fled the deadly scourge; a brave few returned to nurse loved ones. Born to a wealthy slave-owning family in 1849, Katherine Sherwood Bonner, after an early life of privilege, suffered from the “genteel poverty” of many families financially ruined by the Civil War. Married young, she abandoned her husband and young daughter in 1873 to pursue a literary career in Boston. Befriended by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, she produced under the pen name “Sherwood Bonner” a series of well PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL JOHN GRISHAM One of the most popular and widely read writers of American legal thrillers, John Grisham was born on February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. His father, John Grisham, was a construction worker and a cotton farmer, and his mother, Wanda Skidmore Grisham, was a homemaker who cared for John and his four siblings. When Grisham was four years old, he moved with his family to Southaven, where he lived until his early adult life. As a child, he grew up hoping to become a professional baseball player, but that dream did not last long. During his teenage years, Grisham stared working by taking on low-paying, often strenuous jobs, such as watering bushes for a local nursery, working on a fence crew, and paving highways with asphalt in the hot Mississippi sun. It was during this time that Grisham began striving for a different kind of life. After attending school at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia and Delta State University in Cleveland, Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Accounting in 1977. Next, Grisham entered the University of Mississippi School of Law with plans to become a tax lawyer; however, his career aspirations shifted. Following graduation from law school in 1981, Grisham moved home to Southaven to work for almost ten years as a trial lawyer, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983—just two years out of law school—Grisham was elected to the Mississippi state House of Representatives, a position he held until 1990. But as Grisham was rising to success in the worlds of law and politics during the 1980s, he discovered a somewhat unexpected passion for writing. In 1984, Grisham witnessed a trial at the Desoto County Courthouse that led him to write his first novel, A Time to Kill. Inspired by the tragically moving testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim, Grisham began writing the novel that would take him three years to complete. Reflecting on his career, Grisham said, “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.” To finish A Time to Kill, Grisham woke up early and stayed up late every day to write during the hours he was not working at the law firm. Although the book was rejected by numerous publishers at first, Wynwood Press agreed to publish a mere 5,000 copies in June of 1988. By this time, Grisham had already begun writing his second novel, The Firm, which was published by Doubleday in 1991 and hit number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, remaining on the list for forty-seven weeks. The Firm garnered even more acclaim when Grisham sold the film rights to Paramount Pictures for $600,000 that year. With the publication of his number-one New York Times bestsellers The Pelican Brief and The Client, Grisham began solidifying his reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Impressively, Grisham has published a novel per year since 1988—including well-known titles like The Rainmaker, The Chamber, The Runaway Jury, Sycamore Row, and many others. His 2001 novel A Painted House is based on his childhood experiences in Arkansas and Mississippi. Grisham and his wife, Renee Jones, whom he married in 1981, currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his spare time, Grisham dedicates his efforts to charitable causes such at the Rebuild The Coast Fund and Little League Baseball. received “local color” stories featuring the “negro dialect” she heard in her youth. Her most successful works included Suwanee River Tales and Dialect Tales. Her father, Dr. Charles Bonner, and her brother, Samuel, refused to flee the city and worked tirelessly to nurse the victims. Katherine, after receiving letters recounting the horrors of the outbreak, returned home. She was shocked by the eerie quiet and empty streets. Unable to convince her loved ones to leave, she remained to care for the ailing. Tragically, in early September both her relatives contracted the disease. She wired desperately to Longfellow, “Help for God’s sake. Send money. Father & brother down [with] yellow fever. Alone to nurse.” They died a few days later. Bonner wired her friend, “My