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Spotlight on History

Remembering Ernest Gaines

Ernest Gaines at his writing desk in 2013

We are remembering Louisiana author Ernest Gaines, who died last week at age 86.  Gaines, a native of Pointe Coupee Parish, was the author of several novels, including The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying.  He also served as a writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Gaines was awarded with the National Humanities Medal in 2000 and the National Medal of Arts in 2013.  Here are a few of our best stories on Ernest Gaines:     


Ernest Gaines on Louisiana Legends


Louisiana Legends Interview (1982)

Watch Gaines discuss growing up on River Lake Plantation, moving to California as a teenager, and his writing career in this interview with host Gus Weill.



Ernest Gaines Interview from 1986


Ernest Gaines Interview (1986)

See Gaines discuss his inspiration for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and his writing process in this interview from Folks



Ernest Gaines at the 1990 Louisiana Legends Gala


Louisiana Legends Gala (1990)

View Gaines’ speech accepting his recognition as a Louisiana Legend at the inaugural gala.



Ernest J. Gaines: Louisiana Stories


Ernest J. Gaines: Louisiana Stories (1993)

In this documentary on his life and career, watch Gaines share memories of the people of the Quarters on River Lake Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish that inspired his novels.


Art Inspired by Ernest Gaines' Work


Ernest Gaines Art Exhibit (2008)

See highlights of The Sky is Gray: Visual Works Inspired by Ernest Gaines exhibit at the LSU Gallery of Art in Baton Rouge.


Ernest Gaines Interview from 2009


Ernest Gaines Interview (2009)

View Beth Courtney’s interview with Gaines on A Lesson Before Dying for the One Book, One Community program in East Baton Rouge Parish. 



Ernest Gaines Interview from 2013


Ernest Gaines at 80 (2013)

Watch Charlie Whinham’s interview with Gaines as he reminiscences about his career and shares his plans for his final resting place. Watch part 2 here.



Ernest Gaines Reading from his novella in 2018


Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence (2018)

See Gaines read an excerpt from his novella The Tragedy of Brady Sims at the award ceremony for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence in Baton Rouge.