Mary Carter Bishop believed she was an only child all her life. Well into adulthood, while applying for a passport that required a copy of her birth certificate, she discovered her mother’s secret: she was not her mother’s only child. Bishop had a half-brother named Ronnie, the product of her mother’s affair with a married man.
Eventually, Bishop was able to track down her half-brother and was shocked to discover Ronnie’s childhood was vastly different from her own, the effects from which he still suffered. Born out of Bishop’s experience came Don’t You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son.
On Monday, April 1, Ferrum College will host Mary Carter Bishop in a panel discussion regarding her experience, her resulting book, and how women’s options have changed since her mother’s unexpected pregnancy in 1935. This free event is open to the public and will take place in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room in Franklin Hall on campus, beginning with book sales at 6:30 p.m. and discussion following at 7 p.m. Additional panelists include Dr. Sharon Stein, professor of psychology; Dr. Allison Harl, associate professor of English; and Leya Deickman, a Ferrum College senior.
Don’t You Ever has received glowing reviews, called “brave and terrific,” by an Atlantic Journal-Constitution reviewer, and described as “lay[ing] bare the cancer of shame and its often devastating results,” by Publisher’s Weekly. Beth Macy, author of Factory Man, Truevine, and Dopesick, stated Bishop’s book is an “open-hearted and unflinching look at a family history that is equal parts love story and requiem for a brother she barely knew. [Bishop] turns her formidable investigative journalism skills inward to unearth long-simmering class and culture divides in bucolic rural Virginia.”
Bishop is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She was a long-time reporter for The Roanoke Times and won a George Polk Award for her series on pesticide poisonings and fraud by exterminators. Additionally, Bishop was part of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Philadelphia Inquirer team that covered the 1979 nuclear leaks at Three Mile Island, Pa. She lives in Roanoke.