“If you are a good writer - and I think I am - you are able to handle any kind of group and imagine their lives.” – Earl Hamner, Jr.
Born on July 10, 1923, Hamner was perhaps best known for his book Spencer’s Mountain, which spun off into a movie, and his hit television series The Waltons. Inspired by his childhood in the mountains of Virginia, The Waltons ran for a decade in the 1970s and early 1980s and is still in syndication. He also was well known as the voice of the elderly John Boy Walton, who opened and closed each episode.
Hamner, who died in 2016 at the age of 93, got his big break in the late 1950s by writing eight episodes of The Twilight Zone – more than any other writer besides its creator Rod Serling. It was that versatility that put him on the writing map as someone who could take an idea and make it his own, regardless of the genré. But, he said, no matter what he wrote, he always felt both he and his writing were rooted in his Appalachian childhood.
“I did leave Walton’s Mountain to live and work in New York City, wrote more novels, and raised a family of my own,” he said shortly before his death. “But no matter where I am, the call of a night bird, the rumble of a train crossing a trestle, the scent of crab apple, the lowing of a sleepy cow can call me home again. In memory I stand before that small white house, and I can still hear those sweet voices saying good night.”
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