Eleanor Roosevelt biographer to kick off History Book Festival Sept. 28

Blanche Wiesen Cook to speak in Lewes
July 11, 2018

The 2018 History Book Festival will kick off at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, at Bethel United Methodist Church in Lewes with acclaimed historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, who will discuss her most recently published biography, “Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962.”

Paul Sparrow, director of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y., will interview Wiesen Cook and moderate a question-and-answer exchange with the audience. To set the stage for the evening, renowned composer David Cieri will perform pieces he wrote for the Ken Burns PBS documentary series, “The Roosevelts.”

“We are quite proud and excited to bring Blanche Wiesen Cook, Paul Sparrow and David Cieri to Lewes,” said Ronald Collins, who co-chairs the book festival with Jen Mason. “It gives us the opportunity to explore and discuss Eleanor Roosevelt, and the important matters that shaped her life and those of others.”

“We also are excited about the interest the festival has attracted nationwide from noted authors and publishing houses,” said Mason. “Last year, at the first History Book Festival, we had an incredible lineup of diverse authors – and this year’s festival is certain to rival that success. What attracts them to Lewes is our focus on history, our small-town hospitality, our engaged audience, and, of course, our beautiful beaches.”

Wiesen Cook is a distinguished professor of history and women’s studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and at the Graduate Center of City University of New York. She worked on Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography for more than 35 years. The first two volumes of the biography, published in 1992 and 1999, covered Roosevelt’s childhood years, her personal life and her rise to national attention. The three-volume series has received many favorable reviews, including from NPR and The New York Times Book Review.

The third volume follows Roosevelt through the war years until her death, providing new insights into the evolution of her complex marriage to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reveals how she fought for economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality and the rescue of war refugees – all issues the president sidelined as he prepared for and led the country through World War II.

The book festival brings noted and new authors of recently published works of historical fiction and nonfiction to coastal Delaware. Following Friday evening’s event, presentations will continue Saturday, including the addition of a ticketed luncheon and happy hour in 2018.

Venues include the Lewes Public Library, The Margaret H. Rollins Community Center and Lewes History Museum, Lewes Presbyterian Church, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. A free shuttle service will be available to take participants to the different venues. On Saturday, the Friends of The Lewes Public Library will sell a variety of history books to coincide with the festival.

Last year’s inaugural History Book Festival attracted over 1,000 visitors. While most Saturday events are free, thanks to the generous support of Delaware Humanities, iHeart Media and other sponsors, the kickoff Eleanor Roosevelt evening is ticketed and costs $35 per person or $50 per couple. The price includes a signed, softback copy of “Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to