Speak Story Series

2018 Elizabeth Ellis

photography by Katelyn Watson, 2018


1986: Tejas Storytelling Association John Henry Faulk Award
1997: NSN Circle Of Excellence
2002: Storytelling World Award Inviting The Wolf In
2004: NSN South Central Region Service and Leadership
2013: NSN Lifetime Achievement Award
2013: Storytelling World Award From Plot To Narrative
Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award
2013: From Plot To Narrative
2014: Every Day A Holiday
2018: Shepherd University Appalachian Heritage

2018 Appalachian heritage

Elizabeth Ellis

(b. 1943, Winchester, Kentucky)
Elizabeth Ellis, an award-winning storyteller and author, is best known for her live performances of traditional tales, ghost stories, Appalachian and Texas history and folklore, stories of heroic women, and personal stories. She was born in Winchester, Kentucky, in 1943. While just months old, her mother took news of the loss of her father in the war and packed up her children to move home to Milligan College, Tennessee. There Elizabeth lived in the house in which her father had grown up, learning about him solely through family stories. During weekends and summers, she went home to Booneville, Kentucky. As Elizabeth tells it, “I had a Tennessee life and a Kentucky life.”1 Elizabeth delighted in the stories of her grandfather, a circuit riding preacher, whose tales were collected and shared like pollen in the Appalachian Mountains. The Reverend used storytelling to enlighten and transform his flock and his grandchildren. Her aunt was a keeper of the old fairytales that she had learned from her Irish immigrant grandmother. When Elizabeth was young, an early interest in reading, writing, and family stories developed into a love of words and a vivid imagination. Her closest friends were imaginary. Elizabeth received her BA degree in English and History from Milligan College in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee. She earned her Master’s degree in Education, with a specialization in Librarianship, from East Tennessee State University. Recruited by the Dallas Public Library, she relocated to Texas in 1969, where she served for ten years as a Children’s Librarian, and later as a Community Services Librarian. In 1978, Elizabeth invited her friend Gayle Ross to accompany her to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Inspired by others who made their living as storytellers, the two became a duo as The Twelve Moons Storytellers. After many adventures over four years, the duo continued as solo tellers. From New York’s Central Park to the Glistening Waters Festival in New Zealand, Elizabeth captivated listeners near and afar. She is a repeat favorite at the National Storytelling Festival and has been a Storyteller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center. The first recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award from the Tejas Storytelling Association, in 1986, Elizabeth served three terms as its President. She has mentored and coached storytellers in Texas and around the nation for forty years. More than half a million children have marveled at Elizabeth’s stories at last count, and she mesmerizes adults alike. The National Storytelling Network honored her in 1997 with the Circle of Excellence Award, “given to those recognized nationally by their peers to be master storytellers.” With Loren Niemi, she co-authored the pioneering book Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories in 2001. Elizabeth is the author of From Plot to Narrative (2012), an award-winning hand book for crafting stories, and Every Day a Holiday (2014), her memoir. In 2013, the National Storytelling Network honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award for her meritorious service to the National Storytelling Network and the storytelling community, for preservation of traditional art forms and the significant originality of her body of work. Elizabeth is a mother and a grandmother. She lives in Dallas with her dog Woof. Elizabeth Ellis will be the inaugural recipient of the Appalachian Heritage Storyteller’s Award.
biography by Janet Stevens
1 Ellis, Elizabeth. Personal Interview. 02 Feb 2018.

Listen to an interview with Elizabeth Ellis

conducted by Shepherd University APST 545 Students
Krista Kyker, Megan Rynne, and Janet Stevens

Resources Created By Shepherd University APST 545 Students Krista Kyker, Megan Rynne, and Janet Stevens

Photo Gallery

Video Resource Library

Discography and Bibliography

Like Meat Loves Salt and other tales
1984, New Moon Rising NMR-700
Contents: The Peddler's Dream, The Magic Box, How Grandmother Spider Stitched The Earth and Sky Together, The Dancing Man, The Story of Owl, Like Meat Loves Salt
I Will Not Talk In Class: Stories for Children
1989, New Moon Rising NMR-701
Contents: Anansi Uses His Head, The Tailor and the Hudgin, Why Sun Rises Slowly, Obedient Jack, Don't Fall In My Beans, Why Cats Wash After They Eat

Compact Discs
Mothers and Daughters: Recorded Live At The National Storytelling Festival. 
2001, New Moon Productions CD 1010
Contents: My Mama Taught Me..., The Life You Save, The Right Kind of Eyes, A Mother's Curse, Demeter and Persephone - 1984, The Last Word, Shake Hands With Mother Again (hymn)
Meddling In Wal-Mart ®: Recorded Live At The Mariposa Storytelling Festival.
2002, New Moon Productions CD 1012
Contents: Meddling at Wal-Mart ®, Grandmother's Church Window, Geronimo
One Size Fits Some: Recorded Live At The National Storytelling Festival.
2008, New Moon Productions CD 1014
Wading In The Jordan: Recorded Live At The National Storytelling Festival. 
2008, New Moon Productions CD 1016

The Storyteller's Companion To The Bible: New Testament Women, Vol 13 (contributor). Abingdon Press, 1999. 
Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories, coauthored with Loren Niemi. August House, 2001.
From Plot To Narrative. Parkhurst Brothers Publishing, 2012. 
Every Day A Holiday: A Storyteller's Memoir. Parkhurst Brothers Publishing, 2014.

Album Covers

Inviting Wolf Book.jpg
Plot to Narrative Book.jpg
Every Day Book.jpg