The M.Judson Story

M.Judson is more than a bookstore. It’s a literary hub, a cultural hive. It’s trade in a story-centered lifestyle, and that’s the philosophy reflected in everything we do. You'll see it in the farmer-inspired seasonal dishes on our menu, our commitment to local artists, our funky gifts and vintage housewares, and our special events and author signings.

What you’ll find in our store will always flux and change, but at the center is what feeds us: our home, our bellies, and our kids. To these ends, we carry Southern, place-based literature of every kind, books about a handmade life, growing and eating and making food, and books for the next generation of readers. We are a store that’s as comfortable in the history of our stories as it is on the leading edge of what’s next in books and reading and everything a reader’s life entails.

Meet Mary Camilla Judson

At the turn of the 19th century, the Greenville Female College had a lady principal named Mary Judson. A true believer in smart women, she taught every class the college had on offer: English composition and literature, physics, astronomy, botany, physiology, logic, French, elocution, and (near to her heart) calisthenics. Again and again, in print and in public, she chafed at the word “female”— for if hers was a female college, where were all the male ones?  She began the Judson Literary Society, a gathering of women engaged in thoughtful debate, where she encouraged her students to find their point and hit it, too. She donated her life savings to begin a library on campus, later named in her honor. Her annual calisthenics drill, a part of graduation ceremonies, featured students in flowing robes instead of corsets and stays, moving right up to the edge of dance for a packed house audience, as well as the protests of Baptist ministers. This is to say Mary Judson was a woman who believed in the brains and bodies of women, a woman ahead of her time.
We’ve adopted Mary Camilla as our patron saint, our guiding light at the bookstore, and tried to imagine her into the 21st century. Our M. Judson might still wear high boots and long skirts, but she's also irreverent, opinionated, brilliant, and a little bad-ass. Our name ties us to our history and our place, and our namesake gives us a bit of Victorian backbone in this very modern age.