Betty Berry Taylor Brumfield was born on 20 May 1919 in Port Gibson, Mississippi, the daughter of John Marshall Brumfield and Bess Betty Berry Taylor Brumfield. In 1940 she married Aylmer Lee Morgan III of Arlington, Virginia., and they went on to have four children. She attended Loyola University in 1947 and Tulane University in 1948–49.
After her divorce in 1972 Morgan became a creative writing instructor at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe) and several schools in Washington, D.C. She also worked as a farmer, secretary, and real estate specialist, and she was active in the Mississippi civil rights movement.
Her first novel, Pursuit, was published in 1966 and earned her the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, given to new authors who show potential. She also began publishing short stories in the New Yorker, a practice she continued until 1988. The Mystic Adventures of Roxie Stoner (1974), a collection of sixteen short stories, earned Morgan another Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. Her third novel, The Mississippian, was never completed.
Most of Morgan’s stories take place in or near the mythical King’s Town, Mississippi, which resembles Port Gibson. They focus on the Ingles family—like her own family, Catholics who lived on a plantation. The main character in Pursuit, Ned Ingles, returns to King’s Town after trying to teach at a New Orleans university. He expects to find things unchanged: “The land, with its familiar rises and falls, the remembered contours of the trees, gave him the impression that he never left off looking at it, but was coming back, as from an illness or coma, to an original and authentic viewpoint.” In fact, his return forces him to confront numerous uncertainties about sex and race, paternity, responsibility, religion, and alcohol. Mystic Adventures is more episodic, telling numerous stories from the perspective of the African American title character.
Morgan died on 19 June 2002 in Summit Point, West Virginia.
- Martha Adams, in Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 6, ed. James E. Kibler Jr. (1980)
- W. Kenneth Holditch, in Lives of Mississippi Authors 1817–1967, ed. James B. Lloyd (1981)
- Susan Furlong-Bolliger Literary Reference Center, EBSCOhost
- Winchester Star (22 June 2002)