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Contents:
Program 622

1. Robert Penn Warren
2. the Pennyroyal Museum
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Todd County

For more information:
• WKU’s Center for Robert Penn Warren Studies offers a wealth of biographical information, excerpts from Warren’s work, critical commentary, and links to other web resources.

Producer: John Fitch
Videographers: John Fitch, Cheryl Beckley
Editors: Joy Flynn, Mike Brower


Remembering Red

Writer Robert Penn Warren

When young Robert Penn Warren of Guthrie decided to attend Vanderbilt University, he intended to major in chemistry. But a friend convinced him to switch to English. While we have no way of knowing what great chemical insights were thereby lost to us, the move was definitely literature’s gain. Warren would go on to become a towering figure in American letters: novelist, poet, essayist, literary critic, first U.S. poet laureate, and first person ever to win Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and poetry.

To his friends back in Todd County, though, he was just Red. And even though he lived and worked in many different places, from California to England, he never really left his Kentucky roots behind: A Southern sense of place and a sensitivity to small-town life marked his work throughout his life.

The most famous piece of that extraordinary life’s work is the novel All the King’s Men, a fictionalized look at the life of legendary Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long. Published in 1946, it won Warren his first Pulitzer. Later in life, he concentrated more on poetry, eventually winning the Pulitzer twice in that category, for the collections Promises and Now and Then.

The house where Warren was born, on April 24, 1905, is now a historic landmark. A committee of Guthrie citizens completed restoration work and opened it to the public in 1989—the same year Warren died. Caretaker Jean Moore shows us around the place on this Kentucky Life visit. Our profile also includes both literary perspectives on Warren’s work from scholars at Western Kentucky University, which established a Center for Warren Studies in 1986, and personal remembrances from Warren’s daughter Rosanna—who is herself a poet.

Watch This Story (19:42)




Christian County

For more information:
Pennyroyal Area Museum, 217 E. 9th St., Hopkinsville, KY 42240, (270) 887-4270

Producer: Megan Moloney
Videographer: David Brinkley


Pennyroyal Paranormal?

The Pennyroyal Area Museum and Edgar Cayce

Just one county over from RPW Country, you’ll find the Pennyroyal Area Museum in downtown Hopkinsville, which features a Warren tribute of its own. But on this visit, we meet another native son who, in his own chosen field, was just as well known in his day. It’s just that Edgar Cayce’s field is considerably less mainstream: He is perhaps the most famous “psychic healer” America ever produced.

Scoff if you will ... but in the first half of the 20th century, Cayce and his mysterious powers were credited with helping thousands of people recover from all manner of ailments. And his story, as told here by museum Director Debra Pence-Massie, is a fascinating bit of Western Kentucky history.

Author Sidney D. Kirkpatrick has also told Cayce’s story, in the book Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet.

Watch This Story (3:39)


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