Hicks, Robert 1951–
Hicks, Robert 1951–
PERSONAL: Born 1951, in FL. Education: Holds a college degree; graduate study in Lausanne, Switzerland. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting and gardening.
CAREER: Writer, art collector, and preservationist. B.B. King's Blues Clubs, Nashville, TN, Memphis, TN, and Los Angeles, CA, partner and "Curator of Vibe"; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, cocurator for the Art of Tennessee exhibition; Franklin's Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space, founder and president. Has also served on the boards of the Historic Carnton Plantation, Tennessee State Museum, Williamson County Historical Society, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. Music publisher and artist manager in country and rock music.
AWARDS, HONORS: "Top 100 Collectors in America" citation, Arts and Antiques.
Nashville: The Pilgrims of Guitar Town (nonfiction), photography by Michel Arnaud, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 2000
The Widow of the South (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005
Coeditor of the exhibition catalog Art of Tennessee, University of Tennessee Press, 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Editing, with Justin Stelter and John Bohlinger, A Guitar & a Pen: Short Stories and Story-Songs by Nashville Songwriters.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert Hicks's life has been steeped in the South and southern culture. Hicks grew up in South Florida and later lived in Tennessee while working in the country-music industry. His first book, Nashville: The Pilgrims of Guitar Town, is a reflection of this background. A collection of images by Michel Arnaud and essays by Hicks, the book provides profiles of aspiring musicians who have traveled to Nashville and experienced varying degrees of success or failure.
Aside from the music industry, Hicks has also worked as a member of several art boards and preservation societies. It is through this work that he became inspired to write his first novel, The Widow of the South, which is based on a true story. BookPage Online contributor Jay MacDonald, in a profile of and interview with the author, explained that the historical figure Carrie McGavock worked as a field nurse out of her home, the Carnton Plantation, during the Civil War. Later, when a neighboring plantation intended to plow up a field in which 1,500 Confederate soldiers were buried, McGavock and her husband re-interred the bodies in their own backyard, inadvertently becoming owners of the only privately kept Confederate graveyard. McGavock's daily walks through the cemetery later earned her the moniker "Widow of the South." MacDonald stated that McGavock and the story of "the Carnton estate likely would have remained a little-known footnote in Civil War history, had its aging directors not coaxed Hicks, a Franklin resident, into serving on their board in 1987."
In The Widow of the South Hicks not only portrays all of the historical details of McGavock's life, he also inserts, as a plot device, a love story between the married, wealthy McGavock and a poor soldier from Arkansas. Many reviewers commented upon this aspect of the novel, which is "never bogged down in the syrupy mire of convention," stated Tobin O'Donnell in the San Francisco Chronicle. Writing in Booklist, Brad Hooper called the story "mesmerizing," stating that "almost strangely yet certainly beautifully, from all this carnage emerges a love story that transcends time." O'Donnell added that the book reminds readers that "wars are fought not by numerical hordes, but by real men and women who, like the rest of us, are alive and afraid and worthy of love." Indeed, after Hicks became acquainted with McGavock's story, he knew that it needed to be shared. He told MacDonald: "I am a Southerner and there is always that sense of responsibility…. I don't know if I was destined to do this book but I think that somebody was destined to do it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of The Widow of the South, p. 1647.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 28, 2005, Tricia Springstubb, review of The Widow of the South.
Houston Chronicle, September 2, 2005, Clay Reynolds, review of The Widow of the South.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2005, review of The Widow of the South, p. 604.
People, September 12, 2005, Katherine Mosby, review of The Widow of the South, p. 61.
Publishers Weekly, June 20, 2005, review of The Widow of the South, p. 57.
Rocky Mountain News, September 15, 2005, Jennie A. Camp, review of The Widow of the South.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 4, 2005, Martin Northway, review of The Widow of the South.
San Diego Union-Tribune, August 21, 2005, Thornton Sully, review of The Widow of the South.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2005, Tobin O'Donnell, review of The Widow of the South.
BookPage Online, http://www.bookpage.com/ (March 21, 2006), Jay MacDonald, "An Angel of the South," author profile and interview.
Widow of the South Web site, http://www.thewidowofthesouth.com (March 21, 2006).
Warner Books Web site, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (March 21, 2006), author statement.