A Legend’s Legacy

Two individuals looking at antique books
Carla Rountree and Dr. Steven Trout examine the books given to Carla’s father, Dr. Thomas Rountree, by his mentor, Hudson Strode.

From the 2021 Collegian | When Carla Rountree recounts her childhood, she remembers her father’s floor-to-ceiling library, filled with novels, biographies, travel guides, and historical books. Her father, Dr. Thomas Rountree, served as UA’s creative writing program director from 1963 to 1971, before moving to the University of South Alabama to become chair of their English department.  

But before he began his time as a faculty member and writer, he was a master’s student at UA, mentored by Hudson Strode. Strode, who began UA’s creative writing program and served as chair of the department for several years, is widely regarded as one of the most prolific writers to walk the English building’s halls. 

“Hudson Strode was a mentor to my father,” Rountree said. “They traveled and did research together, so they became very close. They were colleagues. And then eventually, when Hudson Strode retired, my father was offered the position to take over the Creative Writing Program at Alabama.” 

“Strode was an extremely influential teacher who taught in the department for a long time,” said Steven Trout, chair of the English department. “He was known as a Shakespeare scholar. But he was also famous for offering creative writing courses. And a large number of the students who took those creative writing courses went on and published novels and short stories. So he seemed to have this ability to enable people to get into print. Now, we have a program and Renaissance studies that bears his name that’s known all over the world. So clearly, he left an impactful legacy in this department.” 

Growing up, Rountree says she remembers hearing stories about her father’s friend, Hudson Strode. When her parents passed, she looked through her father’s belongings and found books bearing Strode’s signature. These, it turns out, were gifts to her father from his mentor.  

Rountree brought these books with her to her home in Washington, D.C., where she works as an engineer and opera singer. Here, she debated where the collection would go. She contacted UA, asking if they would have any use for the books.  

“Books were my father’s life. These books were important to him,” Rountree said. “Since I knew that Hudson Strode was a large part of the university’s history, I felt like they would be much more useful here.” 

The books, which included signed first edition copies of many of Strode’s works, will be stored in the English department’s climate-controlled library in English Hall. Rountree and Trout hope that these books will allow current students to enjoy the legacies of both Strode and Dr. Thomas Rountree.