Bluff City Reading List: “Memphians”

Posted by Holly Whitfield | January 31st 2012 532 0

What do Ida B. Wells, comedian Chris Parnell, historian Shelby Foote and musician Sam the Sham have in common? If you guessed that all are kind of a big deal, you’d be right. You’d also be right for guessing that they’re all Memphians.

They’re also all feature in “Memphians”, a 250-page coffee table book edited by Richard Murff about some of the people, both well-known and unknown, that have made Memphis the city that it is today.

Memphians coffee table book

In the book’s introduction, a Memphian is defined as “someone who was born in the city, went to school here, has made the city home or has spent a significant portion of their life here.”

So by that definition, a lot of peopel are Memphians: Danny Thomas (not from here, but definitely had an impact), Anfernee Hardaway, Tennessee Williams (went to college here) and “Machine Gun” Kelly all count.

Shelby Foote in "Memphians"

The book isn’t all about nationally-known citizens. There are plenty of people like John Martin, who are Memphis famous. Martin, whose occupation is listed as “waver”, used to stand on the corner of Poplar and Holmes with his dog every day during rush hour, waving at passing cars.

We’re a clearly a city full of talented people who are big deals, whether they act like it or not.

You can pick up “Memphians” in Memphis at Burke’s Books and Booksellers at Laurelwood, or on Amazon.


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. marjorie says:

    Love the photo of Cybil Shepherd!

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