Thomas Fox Averill | KCUR

Thomas Fox Averill

Peggy Clark / Washburn University

Nell Johnson Doerr’s husband rolled her up in a carpet so she’d survive Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence. Lying alongside the limestone foundation of her house, she hears her husband’s murder but is powerless to help him.

Kansas writer Thomas Fox Averill’s entirely fictitious book, “Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr,” is rooted in the abolitionist movement, but the character of Nell begins to live and breathe while trapped in the carpet.Readers familiar with Averill’s work might recall that the protagonists of his novel “rode,” found a baby in a raided house near her dead parents. Nell Johnson Doerr is that baby.

Lorie Shaull / Flickr -- CC

In the mid-1800s, a young woman and her husband moved to the Kansas Territory to help runaway slaves. The husband died during Quantrill's raid, leaving her alone. Hear Nell Johnson Doerr's story, as told through diary entries, letters and various documents found in the rafters of a Lawrence barn. But just one thing: this is a work of fiction. A chat with the author of this new novel.

Thomas Fox Averill On 'Rode'

Sep 24, 2013
Courtesy Washburn University

Third time’s a charm for Kansas fiction writer, Thomas Fox Averill.   The author of several collections of short stories, it is Averill’s third novel, Rode—a western—that has brought him national acclaim and Washburn University’s selection for their fall 2013 iRead Program.