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Boling, Katharine 1933–2002

Boling, Katharine 1933–2002

(Katharine Singleton Boling)

PERSONAL: Born July 8, 1933, in Florence, SC; died, 2002; daughter of Burt Newman (an army officer) and Katherine (Atkinson) Singleton; married William D. Boling, Jr. (a planter), August 31, 1957; children: William III, Michelle, Christopher, Stephanie, Jonathan, Rebecca, Celeste. Education: Attended University of Wisconsin, 1951–52, and University of Alaska, 1953; Coker College, A.B., 1955; University of North Carolina, M.A., 1957.

CAREER: KFRB-Radio, Fairbanks, AK, continuity writer and broadcaster, 1953–54; Francis Marion College, Florence, SC, former lecturer in English literature and composition, beginning 1974; Florence Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC, former lecturer in English literature and composition, beginning 1974. Professional raconteur of Sea Island stories in Gullah dialect; member of board of visitors, Coker College, beginning 1974.

WRITINGS:

A Piece of the Fox's Hide, Sandlapper Press (Columbia, SC), 1972.

Country Bunnies, State Printing Co. (Columbia, SC), 1973.

Miss Carrie (one-act play), first produced at University of North Carolina, 1956.

New Year Be Coming!: A Gullah Year (poetry), illustrated by Daniel Minter, A. Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2002.

January 1905 (juvenile novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

Author of introduction, The Last of the Bighams, State Printing Co. (Columbia, SC), 1973. Contributor to Banner Publications.

SIDELIGHTS: While teaching at colleges, primarily in South Carolina, the late Katherine Boling also wrote both poetry and fiction for children. Her New Year Be Coming!: A Gullah Year is a collection of poetry consisting of thirteen short poems written in the Gullah dialect. Each poem is about a month of the year, from January to January, and highlights a different aspect of Gullah culture. The Gullahs are people who lived in isolation on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, where they retained a unique culture and language that reflected their roots in West Africa. A critic for Kirkus Reviews called the volume "a special homage to nature and the Gullah tradition."

Boling's children's novel, January 1905, takes place over two days during the month of the title. At the center of the plot are ten-year-old twins Pauline and Arlene, who are extremely jealous of each other. Boling uses a first-person voice that goes back and forth between the twins and relates the harsh life they experience chapter by chapter. Arlene has a deformed foot, which has kept her at home tending to all the household chores, while the rest of her family, including Pauline, labor at a cotton mill. Because of an injury to a boy who works as a sweeper, Arlene fills in at the factory on the second day, and thus learns how hard her sister works. When Pauline subsequently sprains her ankle, she in turn comes to better appreciate her sister's plight. These experiences help the sisters grow in recognition of each other's positive qualities. In a review of January 1905, a critic for Publishers Weekly noted the "elegant structure" and "carefully observed details of textile mill village life."

Boling once told CA: "Southern literature has, hopefully, found a new dimension. I hope to be part of that expression."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of New Year Be Coming!: A Gullah Year, p. 1217.

Publishers Weekly, June 14, 2004, review of January 1905, p. 64.

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