May 26, 1960: Author Phyllis Reynolds Connection to West Virginia Begins


Author Phyllis Reynolds’s connection to West Virginia began on May 26, 1960, when she married Rex Naylor and visited places where he had family ties, such as Grafton, Buckhannon, and Preston County.

Then, funded by a 1987 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she traveled throughout West Virginia, talked to people, read Goldenseal magazine, and took notes. Naylor found a setting for her most successful books in the small towns and among the people of the Mountain State. Her book Shiloh, published in 1992, won the prestigious Newbery Medal and the West Virginia Children’s Book Award; it was also adapted into a movie in 1997. She set Shiloh and two sequels in and near the Tyler County town of Friendly; the beagle Shiloh is named for a nearby community.

Her other books are also rooted deeply in West Virginia, including Send No Blessings, set in Hinton; Josie’s Troubles, set in Webster Springs; Boys Start the War, set in a fictional Buckhannon; and Wrestle the Mountain, based on the 1968 Farmington coal mine disaster.