It’s Not Too Early to Save the Dates for the Annual Lewes History Book Festival 

In May, I had the privilege to attend a presentation by renowned author, Erik Larson. His new book, “The Demon of Unrest” chronicles the real – but sometimes little known events that led up to the crescendo of the US Civil War. As an added special touch, attendees at the sold-out event learned that we received our signed books (included in the ticket price) on the actual day of the public release. 

A thought-provoking Q&A followed Mr. Larson’s interesting presentation, which was often laced with self-deprecating humor. An additional signing for those who wished theirs personalized followed the event. 

This special event, sponsored by the Lewes Public Library was an appetizer to the 8th Annual Lewes History Book Festival. The weekend full of events takes place on September 27 – 29. 

Touted as the first book and only book festival devoted solely to narrative and historical fiction, it’s no surprise that the weekend draws thousands from near and far and has grown in scope every year. 

The 2024 festival features 21 familiar and emerging authors on Saturday from 9 am – 6 pm in four locations throughout the Lewes Historic District. It is followed by an after party for attendees, volunteers and authors to meet and discuss their experiences. Attendance at the Saturday author events is free, and so is the festival’s exclusive shuttle bus that provides rides to the various talks, as well as to nearby destinations such as shopping and dining establishments. 

Ticketed events with limited seating, by contrast, bookend the festival. The festival opens with its Keynote Speaker, author Jodi Picoult. Well known and a consistent NY Times Bestseller, Picoult has written 31 novels with popular and critical acclaim. 

Her newest book, “By Any Other Name” is due to be released on August 20. It is historical fiction, relating a story of two female playwrights of the same family, but 400 years apart. As with several of Picoult’s novels, “By Any Other Name” is sure to incite conversation and controversy, since the novel purports that Emilia Bassano Lanier actually wrote several poems and dramas behind the name of William Shakespeare – a theory historians have either denied or leave it open to interpretation. The modern day character, Melina Green attempts to tell Emilia’s story, but also experiences similar gender obstacles. 

Attendees will receive a signed copy of Picoult’s new novel, which is included in $35 ticket price. Seating is limited, and opening events usually sell out, so be sure to make your reservation soon. 

Sunday’s 2:30 pm closing event (also ticketed with limited seating) concludes the 2024 Lewes Historic Book Festival. Details have not yet been announced, so pay attention to the website, and sign up for their email updates. 

Saturday’s festival features a food court with several food truck vendors near the library. 

The Lewes History Book Festival is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by Delaware Humanities, Delaware Public Media and Lee Ann Wilkinson Group, among several other businesses and private donors. Its founding community partner is the Lewes Public Library, and several other partners that promote and support Lewes events offer their support for this unique and monumental event. 

All books featured in the festival are available at Browesabout Books of Rehoboth Beach, the founding bookseller. They are also available at Biblion on 2nd Street in Lewes. 

So if you plan to go, you definitely have some summer reading to do. 

By Bridget FitzPatrick  

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