Published by the American Writers Museum                     Volume 6, Number 3    May 7, 2015

The idea of an American Writers Museum seems to me long overdue. The literate world has known and prized American writers since the generation of Emerson and Thoreau. Whitman and Emily Dickinson have influenced poets and readers in English and in translation into many languages. The great current continues, and a museum honoring and portraying American writing would be an honor to the suffering and vision from which our literature came.

W.S. Merwin, former U.S. Poet Laureate 

Preview: First Edition Design Evolves


AWM's Subject Matter Expert teams have been busy since the Fall analyzing the original First Edition plan for the museum and refining its focus. In conjunction with this, a team from Boston-based Amaze Design, led by Andy Anway, has created a new design for the museum, which represents a natural progression in thought and consideration of content, as well as an expanded vision.


Highlights of the new design include a new gallery entitled American Themes, which will include a 60 foot interactive 'bookshelf' showcasing hundreds of great American works; and a Readers Hall, which will feature links between readers and writers as creative partners in the literary process. Readers Hall will also serve as a space for events and feature programming.


The new design still retains numerous elements from the original First Edition plan, including the Chicago Writers room and the Interactive Map, both of which have been reimagined and improved. The full plan for the updated First Edition will be revealed in the upcoming months. Stay tuned!

Ann Patchett and Melissa Ann Pinney Support AWM at Private Event

Left to right: Jane Hamilton, Ann Patchett, and Melissa Ann Pinney

AWM Founders Council member Roberta Rubin and Bill McGrane recently hosted a private event on behalf of AWM in their Glencoe home, featuring PEN/Faulkner Award-winning writer Ann Patchett and photographer Melissa Ann Pinney. Patchett, author of Bel Canto, recently collaborated with Pinney on TWO, a book of photographs paired with essays from prominent writers on the nature of 'two.'


The event featured readings from Patchett as well as a discussion with Pinney, and signed copies of TWO  were given to all attendees. Jane Hamilton, author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World , was also in attendance, and remarks were given by AWM Executive Director Nike Whitcomb on the importance of establishing a national museum celebrating American writing. 

From Our Neighborhoods Seen by Thousands in 2015  

AWM's first travelling exhibit, From Our Neighborhoods, which profiles Chicago writers Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Studs Terkel, and Richard Wright, has been moving through the Chicago suburbs throughout 2015. A recent report from the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, where the exhibit was installed for the month of February, indicates that over 58,000 people visited the library during the exhibit's stay.


From Our Neighborhoods was also installed in Oak Park public Library in March, Highland Park Public Library in April, and can currently be seen Schaumburg Township District Library until the end of May. An online version of the exhibit can be seen here.

Two New Affiliates Join AWM


Two new literary museums have recently been added to AWM's Affiliates program, expanding the network into two new states. In Colorado, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum celebrates the life and works of 19th  century novelist Helen Hunt Jackson, who is perhaps most famous for her 1884 novel Ramona. Jackson   was a resident of the area, and was also a close friend of the poet Emily Dickinson, with whom she exchanged numerous letters in which they often discussed each other's work.


In Austin, Texas, the O. Henry Museum preserves the home of the famed short story writer William Sidney Porter (better known by his pen name O. Henry) who is known for his classic stories 'The Gift of the Magi' and 'The Ransom of Red Chief.' Porter lived in the home from 1893 to 1895, and it has been restored to maintain the appearance of that time, and also serves as a museum preserving artifacts and manuscripts related to his life. 


These recent additions bring the total number of Affiliates to 45, allowing the group to continue to strengthen ties and facilitate cooperative programming within the literary community. To see a complete list with photographs please click here.


There is no cost to become an AWM Affiliate. More information on the program including the Affiliate mission statement, membership criteria, and details on how to join can be found here.

Founders Council Profile: Paul Ruxin

Paul Ruxin was first introduced to the American Writers Museum by Founders Council member Roger Baskes, a close friend with whom he shares the common interests of reading and book collecting. Paul joined the AWM Founders Council in September 2014, and has since enjoyed watching the museum concept develop, citing the recent new design plan presented by Amaze Design as a major leap forward.


Although he has been an avid reader throughout his life, Paul's literary interests were rekindled during his university days. As a student at Amherst College, Paul visited Emily Dickinson's lifelong home many times, and swiftly became a devoted reader of her poetry. Some years later, Paul read James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson and was inspired again, eventually becoming one of the world's leading collectors of Boswell and Johnson materials.


During his celebrated legal career of over 40 years, Paul has been featured numerous times in The Best Lawyers in America and in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation, and the Board of Governors of Dr. Johnson's House in London, England.

Affiliate Spotlight: Washington Irving's Sunnyside and The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe


Along the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, Washington Irving's Sunnyside is preserved by Historic Hudson Valley. Irving, who is most famous for the short stories 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' purchased the home in 1835 and described it as "a little paradise." Visitors to the site can experience guided tours of the home; view original artifacts, such as Irving's writing desk; and explore the grounds, which include plant life planted by Irving himself.

In Richmond, Virginia, The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe celebrates another great American short story writer. The museum, which stands a few blocks from Poe's first Richmond home and his first place of employment, houses detailed exhibits on Poe's life and writings. It also boasts the world's most extensive collection of Poe's manuscripts, letters, and personal belongings, as well as a number of first editions of Poe's books.

AWM Trivia Contest - Enter to win $25 and AWM Posters

This self-portrait depicts which American Southern Gothic writer? 


Submit your answer here for the chance to win. A winner will be drawn randomly from the correct respondents to receive the $25 prize, and the runners-up will each receive an AWM poster. 

Thanks to all our donors, patrons, affiliates, and friends for your ongoing support!


The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives.
American Writers Museum
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American Writers Museum Foundation
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