Best known internationally for his boy and dog story called The Biscuit Eater, James Street was a hobo, soda jerk, butcher, reporter, and minister before he became a famous writer. His stories grew out of his background and experience, primarily the country, boys, and dog, .Mississippi, and ministers. He considered himself a professional entertainer rather than a literary writer.
James Howell Street was born in Lumberton, Mississippi, on October 15, 1903, to John Camillus (a lawyer) and William Thompson Scott Street (that was his mother.) Street's family moved to Poplarville and then Hattisburg before finally settling down in Laurel, Mississippi. At the age of fourteen, Street began working at the Laural Daily Leader, a local newspaper. He became a reporter in Hattiesburg at nineteen.
In 1923 Street (nicknamed Jimmy) married a women by the name of Lucy Nash O'Briant, who was a Baptist minister's daughter. That is when Street (whose family was strictly Catholic) decided to to follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law and become a Baptist minister. Street studied at Fort Worth's Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and first became the minister of a church in St. Charles, Missouri. He then preached at churches in Lucedale, Mississippi, and later Bayles, Alabama, while attending Howard College in Birmingham. While he was in the ministry, his wife gave birth to their three children: James Jr., John, and Ann. After all three were born, Street decided that the ministry was not what he wanted to do. When he left the ministry profession in 1926, he started to write again, working first for newspapers and then writing novels. (See time line).
Street's first novel appeared in 1940 and was called The Promised Land. It was the first of five historical novels, Tap Root, By Valour and Arms, Tomorrow We Reap and Mingo Dabney are the others. They tell the story of the Dabney family in Lebanon, Mississippi, from 1794 to 1896. Street has written two stories about country boys and dogs: The Biscuit Eater and Goodbye, My Lady (which was published under the title "Goodbye, My Lady" but was the same as the Saturday Evening Post story, "Weep No More, My Lady." The book rapidly became an American best-seller. Some time after the war the film, under the same title, was begun. James Street was to be the advisor when he suddenly and tragically died of a heart attack.
The Gauntlet is an autobiographical novel about a Baptist minister. It's sequel is The High Calling. In all, Street ended up writing thirty-five different short stories, seventeen novels and twenty magazine articles. Almost all of his novels were best sellers. In fact, some were made into movies Good-Bye My Lady,The Biscuit Eater, and Tap Roots all were successful films. James Street died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, September 28, 1954, due to a sudden heart attack. (Cox)
Good-bye, My Lady by James Street is a novel about a boy named Skeeter. The original story was published in the Saturday Evening Post as "Weep No More, My Lady." In the story Skeeter's mother died when Skeeter was very young. Therefore, Skeeter's Uncle Jessie takes the boy in. One day when the two are out hunting together, they find a dog that can cry, laugh, and whine. The dog is just like a human, but in form it is a dog. When Uncle Jessie sees her for the first time, he calls her a Yankee dog because he has never seen a dog like that in the South before.
Skeeter has a hard time trying to find a name for the dog. He thinks of names like Dixie, Pal, Tray, and Gertrude. Finally, he thinks of the name Lady. Lady impresses Uncle Jessie because she can smell a partridge that is over sixty yards away. Everything goes well, and then the Lady's owner Mr. Grover shows up. Uncle Jessie and Mr. Grover talk over who should be able to keep Lady. To find out who gets her, you must read this book. This book is a very good book for dog lovers. It will make you cry and laugh. I would strongly encourage you to read it.
1923- Married Lucy Nash O'Briant
1924- Became a Baptist minister in St. Charles, Missouri
1926- Decided that he wasn't suited for ministry and was hired at as a reporter for the Pensacola Journal
1928- Moved to Associated Press
1933-Transferred to New York
1936- Produced his first full-length work Look Away (sketches of life in Mississippi)
1937- Left the Press to work for the New York World Telegram
1939-The Biscuit Eater published in Saturday Evening Post, May 13.
1940- First novel published called Oh, Promised Land (long
historical narrative), Dedicated to his family including Harold
Matson (18th printing in May 1967) main character is Sam Dabney.
- Street moved to Natchez, Mississippi
1940-The Biscuit Eater made into movie by filmmaker
Stuart Heisler ( first solo work as director), said to be the first
talking feature filmed entirely on location (in Albany, Georgia), the story of white boy and his black friend who train
a dog to hunt despite their fathers' objections.
1941- In My Father's House was produced
1942- Tap Roots published
1945- settled down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- The Gauntlet was published
1954- Good-Bye, My Lady was published
- Died on September 28 of a heart attack.
Abbott, Dorothy (1985). Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.
Cox, James L.(1997). Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998. Tallahassee, Florida: Rose Printing Company.
H. W. Wilson Company (1947). Current Biography 1946. New York: New York.
Actors in Goodbye, My Lady
Updated April, 2003
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