Hemphill, Helen 1955-

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Hemphill, Helen 1955-


Born 1955, in Bridgeport, TX. Education: Undergraduate degree (speech and drama); Belmont University, M.A. (English); Vermont College, M.F.A. (writing for children and young adults).


Home and office—P.O. Box 150203, Nashville, TN 37215. E-mail—[email protected]


Author. Worked previously as a teacher.


Authors Guild, Authors League, Tennessee Writers Alliance.

Awards, Honors

Martha Whitmore Hickman Award in Fiction honorable mention, Tennessee Writers' Alliance, 1999; Teacher Award, Frist Foundation, 2000.


Long Gone Daddy, Front Street (Asheville, NC), 2006.

Runaround, Front Street (Asheville, NC), 2007.


Helen Hemphill's young-adult novel Long Gone Daddy explores the tense relationship between a fourteen-year-old boy and his preacher father. The novel takes place in the South, and in an interview with Teri S. Lesesne for Teacher Librarian, Hemphill noted how important setting is in her writing. "Place has a pretty deep hold in my psyche," she explained, "and it is most often the point around which ideas about character identity and plot seem to crystallize." Hemphill also commented in an interview for the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents Web site that her own setting, in regards to her writing process, is usually "at home in my office with my books and lots of pictures" because "I like visual images while I'm working."

The comedy of Long Gone Daddy is found in its three main characters: Harlan Q, Harlan R, and Warrior. Harlan Q and his father, Harlan R, are forced to take a road trip to Las Vegas to deliver the corpse of Harlan Q's grandfather to family members in his hometown of Las Vegas. During the road trip they pick up Warrior, a wanna-be actor who helps to rekindle the estranged relationship between Harlan Q and his father. Reviewing Hemphill's novel, several critics cited the humorous tone the author takes, noting that it effectively engages young readers. A Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed Hemphill "a writer to watch," citing her ability to create "laugh-out-loud scenes." In Booklist, Gillian Engberg wrote that in Long Gone Daddy "Hemphill strikes a confident balance between deep heartache and sharply irreverent humor."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 81.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 454.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2006, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 460.

Kliatt, May, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2006, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 53.

School Library Journal, July, 2006, Susan Oliver, review of Long Gone Daddy, p. 104.

Teacher Librarian, October, 2006, Teri S. Lesesne, interview with Hemphill, p. 58.


Assembly on Literature for Adolescents Web site,http://alan-ya.org/ (May 19, 2007), David Gill, "Helen Hemphill."

Cynthia Leitich-Smith Blog,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (June 5, 2006), "Helen Hemphill on Long Gone Daddy" (interview).

Helen Hemphill Home Page,http://www.helenhemphill.com (May 19, 2007).