Founded in 1987 by a group of writers who met in Chattanooga, the Fellowship of Southern Writers is a nonprofit organization which has for its objective the encouragement of literature in the South. The FSW achieves its mission by commemorating outstanding literary achievement, encouraging young writers through awards, prizes and fellowships, recognizing distinction in writing by election to membership, and through other appropriate activities.
Affiliated with the Chattanooga Arts & Education Council (AEC) and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the FSW holds its biennial convocation in partnership with the AEC Conference on Southern Literature. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Lupton Library houses its archives.
The FSW–formed by twenty-two founding members in 1987–believes that the American South is an identifiable and distinctive cultural and social community, and that the vitality and power of its literature justify recognition and encouragement. The Fellowship is composed of 50 active members. New members are nominated by current members and elected by majority vote, and are drawn from among writers of fiction, poetry, drama, criticism, and history. To be considered for membership a writer must have been born and raised, or have resided for a significant part of his or her life in the South, or have written works that in character and spirit embody aspects of the Southern experience.