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The Ballad of Tom Dooley

A Ballad Novel

Ballad Novels

Sharyn McCrumb

Thomas Dunne Books

A literary triumph—what began as a fictional re-telling of the historical account of one of the most famous mountain ballads of all time became an astonishing revelation of the real culprit responsible for the murder of Laura Foster

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley…The folk song, made famous by the Kingston Trio, recounts a tragedy in the North Carolina mountains after the Civil War. Laura Foster, a simple country girl, was murdered and her lover Tom Dula was hanged for the crime. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his beautiful, married lover accused of murdering the other-woman; the former governor of North Carolina spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the prisoner on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved. 

With the help of historians, lawyers, and researchers, Sharyn McCrumb visited the actual sites, studied the legal evidence, and uncovered a missing piece of the story that will shock those who think they already know what happened—and may also bring belated justice to an innocent man. What seemed at first to be a sordid tale of adultery and betrayal was transformed by the new discoveries into an Appalachian Wuthering Heights. Tom Dula and Ann Melton had a profound romance spoiled by the machinations of their servant, Pauline Foster.

Bringing to life the star-crossed lovers of this mountain tragedy, Sharyn McCrumb gifts understanding and compassion to her compelling tales of Appalachia, and solidifies her status as one of today's great Southern writers.

A literary triumph—what began as a fictional re-telling of the historical account of one of the most famous mountain ballads of all time became an astonishing revelation of the real culprit responsible for the murder of Laura Foster

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley…The folk song, made famous by the Kingston Trio, recounts a tragedy in the North Carolina mountains after the Civil War. Laura Foster, a simple country girl, was murdered and her lover Tom Dula was hanged for the crime. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his beautiful, married lover accused of murdering the other-woman; the former governor of North Carolina spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the prisoner on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved. 

With the help of historians, lawyers, and researchers, Sharyn McCrumb visited the actual sites, studied the legal evidence, and uncovered a missing piece of the story that will shock those who think they already know what happened—and may also bring belated justice to an innocent man. What seemed at first to be a sordid tale of adultery and betrayal was transformed by the new discoveries into an Appalachian Wuthering Heights. Tom Dula and Ann Melton had a profound romance spoiled by the machinations of their servant, Pauline Foster.

Bringing to life the star-crossed lovers of this mountain tragedy, Sharyn McCrumb gifts understanding and compassion to her compelling tales of Appalachia, and solidifies her status as one of today's great Southern writers.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY

What did I know about murder cases that a man’s life should lie in my hands? I had spent the whole of my adult life in politics, except for a few years on a mountain circuit court, a decade before that trial. A war ago.

This tale is not a penny-dreadful thriller, penned by the likes of Mr. Wilkie Collins. Look elsewhere for clues and footprints and the trappings of a puzzle story—and go to the devil if you try to make this tale into one.

A case of law is a chess game for those who make their living at it, and a great sorrow for those who get caught

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Ballad of Tom Dooley

"McCrumb's tale is impeccably researched ... McCrumb's novel casts light on the often bleak context surrounding characters who have become legend."
--Publishers Weekly
 
"In a story with parallels to Wuthering Heights, McCrumb makes a strong case for a sociopathic servant as the catalyst for the deadly events that ensued.True to the language and culture of its time and place."
--Library Journal
"McCrumb's tale is impeccably researched ... McCrumb's novel casts light on the often bleak context surrounding characters who have become legend."
--Publishers Weekly
 
"In a story with parallels to Wuthering Heights, McCrumb makes a strong case for a sociopathic servant as the catalyst for the deadly events that ensued.True to the language and culture of its time and place."
--Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sharyn McCrumb

  • SHARYN MCCRUMB's books have been named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times, she has been named as a “Virginia Women of History” and won the Appalachian Writer of the Year Award.
  • Sharyn McCrumb David McCrumb
    Sharyn McCrumb
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    The Ballad of Tom Dooley

    A Ballad Novel

    Ballad Novels

    Sharyn McCrumb

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Thomas Dunne Books

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