At thirteen Joel Chandler Harris, the chronically shy, red-headed illegitimate son of an Irish day-laborer, left the home he shared with his impoverished mother and began his to-be-illustrious career as a typesetter's apprentice on a plantation newspaper near Eatonton. After the Civil War, his work as a typesetter and book reviewer led to editorial positions on papers in Forsyth, Savannah, and ultimately the Atlanta Constitution. At the Constitution Harris began writing sketches in a rendition of African-American dialect from which sprang the "Uncle Remus" character with which he is popularly associated.
Harris wrote for the Constitution for twenty-four years, from 1876 to 1900. Between his career there and his death in 1908, he produced six novels, a biography, a history of Georgia, a translation of French folktales, six volumes of children's stories, and seven volumes of short stories for adults. Except for a few months in New Orleans, Harris's entire life and career was spent in his native Georgia, from which flowed his novels of plantation life and Reconstruction, as well as his history of the state and a biography of Constitution editor Henry W. Grady.
Ultimately Joel Chandler Harris's work led to his election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1905, where he was chosen to be a charter member of an elect pantheon of American writers along with the likes of Mark Twain, Henry James, and Henry Adams. Although critics continue to scrutinize and argue over Harris's work, particularly his portrayal of African Americans, the popularity of his Uncle Remus tales has persisted for over a hundred years, through numerous editions, reprintings, retellings and adaptations. Harris's writing has been called "a catalytic agent of prime importance in the history of the Afro-American short story."1
1Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 91: American Magazine Journalists, 1900-1960. Edited by Sam G. Riley. The Gale Group, 1990. p. 148.
The following titles may be found in the Hall of Fame collection of the Hargrett Library:
Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. New York: Appleton, 1881.
Nights with Uncle Remus: Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation. Boston: Osgood, 1883.
Mingo and Other Sketches in Black and White. Boston: Osgood, 1884.
Free Joe and Other Georgian Sketches. New York: Scribners, 1887.
Daddy Jake The Runaway and Short Stories Told After Dark. New York: Century, 1889.
Balaam and His Master and Other Sketches and Stories. Boston: & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1891.
Balaam and His Master and Other Sketches and Stories. London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1891.
A Plantation Printer: The Adventures of a Georgia Boy During the War. London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1892.
On the Plantation: A Story of a Georgia Boy's Adventures During the War. New York: Appleton, 1892.
Uncle Remus and His Friends. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1892.
Little Mr. Thimblefinger and His Queer Country: What the Children Saw and Heard There. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1894.
Mr. Rabbit at Home: A Sequel to Little Mr. Thimblefinger and His Queer Country. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1895.
The Story of Aaron (So Named) The Son of Ben Ali. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1896.
Stories of Georgia. New York, Cincinnati & Chicago: American Book, 1896.
Georgia from the Invasion of De Soto to Recent Times. New York: D. Appleton and company, 1896.
Sister Jane: Her Friends and Acquaintances. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1897.
Aaron in the Wildwoods. Boston & new York: Houghton Mifflin, 1897.
Tales of the Home Folks in Peace and War. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1898.
Plantation Pageants. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1899.
The Chronicles of Aunt Minervy Ann. New York: Scribners, 1899.
On the Wing of Occasions. New York: Doubleplay, Page, 1900.
Free Joe, and Other Georgian Sketches. New York: International Association of Newspapers and Authors, 1901.
The Making of a Statesman and Other Stories. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1902.
The Making of a Statesman and Other Stories. London: Isbister, 1902.
Gabriel Tolliver: A Story of Reconstruction. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1902.
Wally Wanderson and His Story-Telling Machine. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1903.
A Little Union Scout. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1904.
The Tar-Baby and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus. New York: Appleton, 1904.
Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1905.
Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit. New York: Stokes, 1907.
The Bishop and the Boogerman. New York: Doubleplay, Page, 1909.
The Shadow Between His Shoudler-Blades. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1909.
The Kidnapping of President Lincoln: and Other War Detective Stories. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1909.
Uncle Remus and the Little Boy. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1910.
Daddy Jake the Runaway, and Short Stories Told After Dark, by "Uncle Remus." New York: Century, 1910.
Uncle Remus Returns. Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1918.
Uncle Remus and His Friends; Old Plantation Stories, Songs, and Ballads, with Sketches of Negro Character.illustrated by A.B. Frost. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. 1920.
The Witch Wolf: An Uncle Remus Story. Cambridge, Mass.: Bacon & Brown, 1921.
On the Plantation; a Story of a Georgia Boy's Adventures During the War. Illus. by E.W. Kemble. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1929.
Harris, Joel Chandler with Julia Collier Harris, ed. Joel Chandler Harris: Editor and Essayist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1931.
Tales from Uncle Remus. Illus. by Milo Winter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935.
Brer Rabbit; Stories from Uncle Remus. Adapted by Margaret Wise Brown, with the A. B. Frost pictures redrawn for reproduction by Victor Dowling. New York; London: Harper, 1941.
Qua: A Romance of the Revolution. Thomas H. English, ed. Atlanta: The Library, Emory University, 1946.
Seven Tales of Uncle Remus. Thomas H. English, ed. Atlanta: The Library, Emory University, 1948.
The Favorite Uncle Remus. Illus. by A. B. Frost. Selected, arr. & ed. by George Van Santvoord and Archibald C. Coolidge. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1948.
Harris, Joel Chandler and Compiled by Richard Chase. The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955.
Uncle Remus. Illus. by A. B. Frost. Introd. by Stella Brewer Brookes. New York: Schocken Books. 1965.
Free Joe, and Other Georgian Sketches. Ridgewood: N.J.: Gregg Press 1967.
Gabriel Tolliver; a Story of Reconstruction. Ridgewood: N.J.: Gregg Press, 1967.
Uncle Remus; Tales. Selected and introduced by John Tumlin. Savannah: Beehive Press 1974.
Free Joe: Stories. Selected and introduced by John Tumlin, Savannah : The Beehive Press, 1975.
Stories of Georgia. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1976.
On the Plantation: A Story of a Georgia Boy's Adventures During the War. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980.
Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-lore of the Old Plantation. Atlanta, Ga.: Cherokee Pub. Co., 1981.
Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.
Uncle Remus Stories. Overland Park, Kan.: Scott Free Press, 1983.
Dearest Chums and Partners: Joel Chandler Harris' Letters to His Children: a Domestic Biography. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1993.
Evening Tales Done into English from the French of Frederic Ortoli. New York: Scribners, 1893.
Uncle Remus's Home Magazine. Atlanta, Ga., Sunny South Publishing Co.
The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library of the Emory University Libraries in Atlanta, Georgia holds a large amount of Harris' letters, photographs, illustrations, printed material, and memorabilia.