Friday, October 20, 2006

Mirth, Innocence, and a Dash of Life—Scholar and Novelist Maureen Howard Reads from Her Works, October 24

Chestertown, MD, October 19, 2006 — Washington College's Sophie Kerr Committee presents Maureen Howard, reading from her works, October 24, at 4:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room of the Miller Library. The event is free and open to the public.

A scholar as well as a novelist, Maureen Howard creates a rich backdrop of history and ideas in her fiction and is often called upon to write introductions to new publications of classics, such as Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. Three of Howard's seven previously published novels have been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and her 1978 memoir, The Facts of Life, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

"A grand writer of English prose; she's witty and (a rarer quality in novelists) she's intelligent as well," declared Peter S. Prescott in Newsweek. Often compared to the works of Henry James and Virginia Woolf, her writing receives praise for its brilliant, sensitive commentary on contemporary society.

In addition to her own fiction writing, Howard has just edited the two-volume Edith Wharton: Collected Stories, spanning the American writer's career from 1891 to 1937. The Library of America approached Howard for this project based on her previous scholarship on Wharton's novel, The House of Mirth.

The reading is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, which works to carry on the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has done so much to enrich Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to the College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor" and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications.

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