Ellen Douglas, a celebrated author whose novel "Apostles of Light" was a 1973 National Book Award nominee, died Wednesday in her native Jackson, Miss. She was 91.

State Rep. Steve Holland, a funeral director handling arrangements, told the Associated Press that Douglas died after an extended illness.

Born Josephine Ayres Haxton, the accomplished author used the pen name “Ellen Douglas” in an effort to guard the privacy of her family. Douglas' Mississippi-set work dealt candidly with race relations, families and the role of women.

Having grown in Hope, Ark., and Alexandria, La., Douglas was said to have spent summers with her grandparents in Natchez, Miss. She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1942 and went on to write 11 books, including six novels and several collections of short stories.

As Douglas often used her Mississippi surroundings for inspiration, "Apostles of Light" takes place in fictional Homochitto, Miss. and is a complex novel about the mistreatment of residents at a home for the elderly. The town is used as a setting in many of her works.

In a 1980 oral history with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, cited by the Associated Press, Douglas said she was influence by the "overwhelming hypnotic style" of Faulkner, who was living and writing in Oxford when she was a student there at the University of Mississippi. She added that she met him once when she was a student and a couple of times years later, but didn't know him well.

Douglas won a lifetime achievement award in 2008 from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.

Some of her other works were "A Family's Affairs" and "Can't Quit You, Baby."

According to the AP, Douglas raised her family in Greenville, Miss., and had lived in Jackson for the past three decades.

She is survived by three sons -- Richard Haxton, Brooks Haxton and Ayres Haxton.