Tools Menu

Share Your Feedback

Winner of two 2013 Emmy Awards from the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

July 17

Get Adobe Flash player

Olive Ann Burns

July 17, 1924 - Banks County, Commerce, Atlanta
Cold Sassy Tree, a coming of age tale set in turn of the century Georgia, was inspired by some bad news. Olive Ann Burns was a writer for the Atlanta Constitution in 1975 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She walked out of the doctor’s office determined to write a novel.

Born in Banks County in 1924, Burns grew up in Commerce, the inspiration for the fictional town of Cold Sassy. Writing would be her life, first working for the Atlanta Journal Constitution Magazine, later penning an advice column under the pen name “Amy Larkin.” Then came the cancer diagnosis that changed everything. She went to work on the novel, which was based on family stories about her grandfather. The bestseller was adapted into a 1989 TV movie. A second novel, Leaving Cold Sassy, was published two years after Burns’ death in 1990.

The author whose confrontation with death brought a fictional town to life was born on July 17, 1924, Today in Georgia History.



Daily Activity

Learn More & Image Credits

Related Topics

20th century, journalist, writer, novel, women, Individual Development and Identity, Culture

Related Articles
& Links

Olive Ann Burns...

Flannery O'Connor...

Harry Crews...

Fast Fact

Cold Sassy Tree was added to the list of books recommended for teenagers by the American Library Association and the New York Public Library in 1985.

GHS Finding Aids

Steve Oney papers

Ossabaw Island and Torrey family papers