When Mary Elizabeth Nelson acquired Rivendell in 1990, she envisioned a place which cultivates the imagination of the participants and inspires possibility. Building on her vision through the development of a non-profit entity, Rivendell Writers’ Colony, with an emphasis on mind, body, and spirit, seeks to provide residencies and fellowships for writers/authors, as well as guest stays for readers and those who love the land.
Rivendell Writers’ Colony adjoins and builds on the legacy of the historical Brinkwood property once owned by William Alexander Percy, and later his novelist cousin, Walker Percy. “Uncle Will,” as he was affectionately known to Walker and his two brothers provided the foundation for Walker’s vivid imagination and keen observation senses, as well as access to numerous well known authors and artists who often visited Brinkwood. Walker Percy spent many summers at Brinkwood during his young adult life, and indeed his entire first year of marriage. It is here where he developed images for characters, as well as specific references such as Lost Cove throughout his writings.
Rivendell Writers’ Colony is inspired by the literary legacy in Sewanee. The Sewanee Review, which has published a long list of literary geniuses such as Flannery O’Connor, Wendell Berry, and T.S. Eliot, as well as many other prominent and promising writers, was founded in 1892 and is renowned as the nation’s oldest continually-published literary quarterly. More recently (over the last 25 years) the Sewanee Writers’ Conference has brought to Sewanee every summer authors, publishers, and literary critics from all over the world, thanks to a bequest left by the playwright Tennessee Williams to encourage writers and writing. The Sewanee School of Letters, a graduate program at the University of The South (Sewanee) is the newest addition to the literary legacy which the mountain is so very well known for. Rivendell Writers’ Colony welcomes each of these wonderful literary institutions to participate in the life of Rivendell, offering their rich traditions and literary resources for guests and residents.
Mary Elizabeth has committed over 20 years of her energy, resources, and hope to this project. Her restoration of the properties, along with her love and care for the natural beauty and land of Rivendell and Brinkwood Farm, creates an opportunity for others through her enduring legacy.
Join us as we help write yet another chapter in the literary history of Sewanee.