For our first post, we’re featuring the book that springs to mind when many think of the Ozarks. Harold Bell Wright published The Shepherd of the Hills in 1907. It’s a story of love, loss, madness and redemption set in the Ozarks around Branson, and it stems from Wright’s own experiences in the area. This copy is from the collection of Frank Luther Mott, whose study of American best-sellers estimated that this was one of the first American novels to sell over 1 million copies.
What’s interesting about this unassuming little book is that it is responsible for making Branson, Missouri, into the tourist destination it is today.
Because of the novel, a steady stream of tourists began arriving in southern Missouri in the early twentieth century. The region responded by developing resorts, services, and tourist attractions throughout the Ozarks. We’ll take a look at one of those operations - run by a self-proclaimed “typical hillbilly” - next week.
Culture & Customs: A lady’s rank is determined by birth and - if she marries nobility - marriage. Paradoxically, if a lay marries a man outside the aristocracy, she does not lose her title. However, if she marries a lesser noble (anyone below an earl) her rank would slip.
I know Allen Leech and Rob James-Collier joke about Thomas and Tom moving to the U.S. and opening a gay bar and an Irish bar opposite each other but literally I wish that would happen, because I couldn’t take them crying this episode.