Janice Holt Giles

Historical Marker #1813 in Adair County notes the location of the home of novelist Janice H. Giles.

Giles was born in 1905 in Altus, Arkansas. Her parents, John and Lucy Holt, were teachers on Native American reservations in Arkansas and Oklahoma. She likely received her love of learning and talent for writing from her mother and father. Janice attended both the University of Arkansas and Transylvania University, and, after a sixteen-year marriage that ended in divorce, she moved to Kentucky.

In 1943, Janice met soldier Henry Giles on a bus trip to visit family in Texas. The couple married in 1945, and, four years later, moved to a rural farm near Knifley, Henry’s hometown, in Adair County. Her Kentucky surroundings must have prompted her inner creativity, because she published her first novel, "The Enduring Hills" in 1950. She then became a prolific novelist, publishing over twenty books. Most of Giles’s novels are historical fiction set during Kentucky’s early history or in the frontier days of Arkansas and Oklahoma. The "Piney Ridge Trilogy," consisting of "The Enduring Hills," "Miss Willie" (1951), and "Tara’s Healing" (1952), are among her best known.

Giles died in 1979 and was buried in the Caldwell Chapel Cemetery, in her adopted Adair County. Her home there has been meticulously restored and the annual Janet Holt Giles and Henry Giles Festival is held each October in her honor.