Julia Peterkin was an American fiction writer.
Her father was a physician, of whom she was the youngest of four children. Her mother died soon after her birth. In 1896, at age 16, Julia graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from which she received a master's degree a year later. She taught at the Forte Motte, South Carolina, school for a few years before she married William George Peterkin in 1903. He was a planter who owned Lang Syne, a 2,000-acre cotton plantation near Fort Motte.
Julia began writing short stories, inspired by the everyday life and management of the plantation.
She was audacious as well as gracious, an ambiguity attested to by Robeson. Peterkin sent highly assertive letters to people she did not know and had never met, such as Carl Sandburg and H.L. Mencken, and included samples of her writing about the Gullah culture of coastal South Carolina. Essentially sequestered on the plantation, she invited Sandburg, Mencken and other prominent people to the plantation. Sandburg, who lived nearby in Flat Rock, North Carolina, made a visit. While Mencken did not visit, he nevertheless became Peterkin's literary agent in her early career, a possible testament to her persuasive letters. Eventually, Mencken led her to Alfred Knopf, who published her first book, Green Thursday, in 1924.