Local author, FSCJ professor and Jax Psycho Geo founder, Dr. Tim Gilmore will unveil his latest work, “The Mad Atlas of Virginia King,” at the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Old St. Andrews Church on Thursday, October 8th.
Known by residents as a “Riverside character,” Virginia King wrote an 8,448-page highly inaccurate book about her hometown of Jacksonville, with a title almost as long. The pastor who eulogized her called her a prophet. Dena Snodgrass, longtime president of the Jacksonville Historical Society, dismissed her as a mere “history bluff.”
King’s book, “Interesting Facts about Leading People and Families of Duval County: Also, Where Progress Has Changed a Lot of Homes and Buildings,” ran about 100 pages in 1968, almost 900 by 1977, and by 1984, the unpublished sixth edition spanned 8,448 handwritten pages. Though she got so much of Jacksonville’s history wrong, her work touches innumerable aspects of it, and her devotion and commitment are perhaps unmatched.
Virginia King sought to preserve, in book form, the city being demolished around her. Her blurred, crooked photos document hundreds of old buildings long vanished. She walked Riverside daily, wearing outfits decades out of style and a diligent scowl, and lived at 18 Riverside addresses from 1915 to 2001. She said her brother was dead. He said he’d never heard of her. Always dirt poor, she called the wealthiest residents “my little friends” and city leaders “little boy.”
In his 10th book, “The Mad Atlas of Virginia King,” Gilmore tracks the exponential growth of “Interesting Facts” and uncovers wildly peculiar stories from people who remember Virginia well. “The Mad Atlas” includes comics and musings by Hurley Winkler of Perversion Magazine and Swamp Radio and hand-drawn maps by architectural portraitist Kiley Secrest.
The reception and book signing will be at the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Old St. Andrews Church on Thursday, October 8th and will begin at 6:30pm. Dr. Gilmore will present his findings on Jacksonville’s unique character, Virginia King, at 7pm.