Olive Tilford Dargan (Fielding Burke): The Life and Literature


Olive Tilford Dargan, also known through her pseudonym Fielding Burke, was born to a rural family in Litchfield, Kentucky and later became a poet, playwright and novelist. Much of her writing focused on women and working class issues of the Southern Appalachian region. She was a feminist and a socialist, providing one of the few strong southern female voices to the proletarian fiction of the 1930s. As an active participant in the proletarian movement, Dargan wrote a series of radical feminist/socialist novels on the Gastonia mill strikes. Dargan was one of the only proletarian writers to provide a voice of the female working class experience. Her most well-acclaimed published work, From My Highest Hill: Carolina Mountain Folks, was not overtly political, but concentrated on her neighbors in the mountains of Western North Carolina, featuring photography by Bayard Wootten. Dargan was especially interested in fighting the stereotypes of mountain people and culture that were propagated in local color writings, especially Earley Muriel Sheppard’s Cabins in the Laurel. This pathfinder is designed as an introduction to material and resources about the life and literature of Olive Tilford Dargan available in Belk Library and W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection.

Introductory Text: 

American Women Writers. A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Vol. 1. 2nd Edition. Edited by Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf. Four volumes. Detroit: St. James P, 2000. ASU APP COLL PS147.A4

Elfenbein, Anna Shannon. Introduction. From My Highest Hill: Carolina Mountain Folks. By Olive Tilford Dargan. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1998. ASU APP COLL STACK PZ3.D2468 fro 1998.

Shannon, Anna W. Biographical Afterword. Call Home the Heart. By Fielding Burke. Novels of the Thirties Series. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press, 1983. ASU APP COLL PZ3.D2468

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • American Literature -- Women Authors -- History and Criticism
  • American Literature -- Appalachian Region - Southern
  • Appalachian Region -- Social Life and Customs -- Fiction
  • Feminism and literature -- United States
  • Great Smoky Mountains (N.C. and Tenn.) -- Social life and customs -- Fiction
  • Labor Movement -- Fiction
  • Mountain Life -- Appalachian Region, Southern - Fiction
  • Mountain Life -- Great Smoky Mountains (N.C. and Tenn.) -- Fiction
  • Mountain Life -- North Carolina -- Fiction
  • Mountain Whites (Southern States) -- Social Conditions -- Fiction
  • North Carolina -- Social life and customs -- Fiction
  • Poor in Literature
  • Regionalism in Literature
  • Working Class -- Fiction
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Appalachian Authors, “D”
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • PS3507.A6
  • PS261.F-.N8
  • PS266.N8
  • PS558.N8
  • PS21.B4-.R4
  • PS228.R34
  • PS379.R5-.W3
  • PZ3.D2468

Cook, Sylvia Jenkins. From Tobacco Road to Route 66: The Southern Poor White in Fiction. Chapel Hill: U North Carolina P, 1976. APP COL and MAIN Stacks, PS261.C57

Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in United States Proletarian Fiction, 1929-1941. Durham: Duke UP, 1993. Stacks PS374.P6 F65 1993

Hapke, Laura. Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American 1930s. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1995. Stacks PS374.W6 H357 1995

Mullen, Bill and Sherry Lee Linkon, eds. Radical Revisions: Rereadings of 1930s Culture. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996. Stacks PS228.R34 R33

Rideout, W.B. The Radical Novel in the United States, 1900-1954: Some Interrelations of Literature and Society. Cambridge: Harvard UP,1956.Stacks PS379.R5

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Booker, M. Keith. The Modern American Novel of the Left: A Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. REF PS374.P6 B66 1999

American Women Writers. A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. 2nd edition. Vol. 1. Ed. Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf. 4 vols. Detroit: St. James P, 2000. REF PS147.A4

Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Ed. William S. Powell. Vol. 2. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1986. APP COLL Oversize CT 252.D5 V.5

Encyclopedia of American Literature. Ed. Steven R. Serafin. New York: Continuum, 1999. REF PS21.E53 1999

The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States. Ed. Cathy N. Davidson and Linda Wagner-Martin. REF PS147.094 1995

Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary. Eds., Bain, Robert, Joseph M. Flora, and Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Baton Rouge: Louisiana UP, 1979. REF PS261.S59

Women Writers in the United States: A Timeline of Literary, Cultural and Social History. Eds., Davis, Cynthia J., and Kathryn West. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. REF PS 147.D38 1996

Subject Guide: Literature and Literary Criticism


MLA Bibliography, FirstSearch, 1963-present. Available on and off campus.


The New York Times. N.Y.: H.J. Raymond & Co. 9 Jan. 1907: 30; 16 Feb. 1913: 79. Microfilm: 1857-present. ASU MICROFILM. Also available online at http://www.nyt.com/ with a searchable archive.

Atlantic Monthly. Boston : Atlantic Monthly Co., -[c1932]. May, June, Spet. 1919; Jan., Apr., Dec., 1924. Bound: v.97, 1906-v.149, 1932
Microfiche: v.1, 1857-v.96, 1905 (LAC 30001-30099). ASU GR.FLOOR STORAGE

Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, NC, The Charlotte Observer. 24 July, 1932. Microfilm: Apr. 3, 1916- ASU MICROFORM

Nation. New York, N.Y. : J.H. Richards.Dec. 30, 1925: 764. ASU Periodicals. Bound vol. 146.

North Carolina Libraries. Greensboro [et. al.]: North Carolina Library Association. Spring 1960: 68-76. ASU Periodicals. Bound, vol. 1, 1942-

Reviewer. Chapel Hill [et al.]: University of North Carolina Press [et. al.]. April 1925. APP COLL Stack AP2.R45, vol.5

Southern Packet. Asheville: Stephens Press. June 1949: 2. APP COLL Stacks. Bound, vol. 5, 1945-9.

Southern Exposure. 1, (Winter 1974). Bound, vol. 3, 1973/74: 185-203. APP COLL F206.S68

Southern Literary Journal. 7, no.1 (1974): 49-66. ASU Periodicals. Bound, vol. 1, 1968-

Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. 9, no. 2 (1992 Fall): 128-30. Available on-line through InfoTrac.

Social Research. 38, (1971). ASU Periodicals. Bound, vol. 1, 1934-: 3-29.
The Minnesota Review: A Journal of Committed Writing. 24, (1994 Spring): 64-84. ASU Periodicals.


KYLIT - A Site Devoted to Kentucky Writers. English Dept., U. of E. KY., 1994. George Brosi’s articles: “Olive Tilford Dargan” and “Olive Tilford Dargan, A Bibliography.”

North Carolina Writers’ Network. Biography of Olive Tilford Dargan.

NC Women Writers - Chronological Index. Duke University in conjunction with the North Carolina Women Writers Conference held on March 13-15, 1992.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: S. Suzanne Savell, 7 November 2001