The Berkshire Athenaeum on is adding a new book to its collection of works by local authors. History Press and local historian Bernard A. Drew will launch his newest work, Literary Luminaries of the Berkshires: From Herman Melville to Patricia Highsmith, with a talk and book signing in the auditorium at the Athenaeum on Thursday, July 23rd, at 6 p.m.
The Massachusetts Berkshires has long appealed to talented writers, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edith Wharton to Sinclair Lewis and Joan Ackermann. The Green River in Great Barrington inspired William Cullen Bryant’s poetry. Charles Pierce Burton’s childhood hometown of Adams became the setting for his frolicking Boys of Bob’s Hill juvenile books. Patricia Highsmith, during an interlude in Lenox, quizzed her undertaker-landlord for information she might use in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Drew, who lives in Great Barrington, has collected information about local fiction writers and poets for more than 30 years. In this, his latest book, he chronicles some 250 wordsmiths who took inspiration from these hills and valleys. “Don’t expect encyclopedia entries,” the author said. “This is written from a local historian’s point of view, looking closely at the relationship of these writers to the landscape and culture of the Berkshires.”
Ronald Latham, director of the Berkshire Athenaeum, wrote in the foreword of the book, that Drew’s arrangement of material by theme gives him “the opportunity to digress beautifully into more extensive background notes, contextual anecdotes and humorous jibes that allow him to play to his strengths as the foremost historian of the Berkshires.”
The Berkshire Athenaeum’s Berkshire Authors Room is the area’s largest accumulation of works – fiction, poetry, non-fiction – by writers who have lived or worked here, or who have written about the Berkshires.
The public is invited to this free event, which will be held in the library’s auditorium. Light refreshments will be served and signed copies of Mr. Drew’s book will be available for purchase. We hope to see everyone there!