Find history at Annual History Book Festival in Lewes Sept. 28-29

September 22, 2018

The fun doesn’t end on Labor Day. The second annual History Book Festival is coming to Lewes Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29, with an engaging and diverse slate of authors and topics for all ages. 

The festival kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. at Bethel United Methodist Church with a multimedia event featuring Blanche Wiesen Cook, a noted biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt and distinguished professor. Wiesen Cook will discuss her latest book, “Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3:  The War Years and After, 1939-1962.”  Paul Sparrow, director of the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, will interview her. The interview will be complemented by a performance by David Cieri, an acclaimed musician who composed the music for “The Roosevelts” PBS documentary. 

Tickets for the keynote event are $35 per person, or $50 per couple, which includes one book signed by the author. 

Thanks to the generous support of Delaware Humanities, free author events will be offered throughout the day Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 20 bestselling or noted authors of current fiction and nonfiction books will discuss their work. They will be introduced by experts who will share insights and facilitate audience questions. The festival will conclude with a Spirited Discussion, a festive gathering for audience members and presenters to celebrate the event.

Most Saturday events will take place in the Lewes Public Library, the Margaret C. Rollins Community Center, and Lewes Presbyterian Church in downtown Lewes. While these venues are within walking distance of each other, a free shuttle will make the circuit between events and the Lewes Historic Business District. 

Fascinating topics about the history of everything abound at this year’s festival, including food, politics, civil rights, Colonial America, music, and the culture of the Delmarva peninsula. All books will be available for purchase at all festival locations, at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth and at Biblion in Lewes. Books are also currently available at the Lewes Public Library for those who prefer to read in advance.

“We are so excited to bring the History Book Festival to Lewes for its second year,” said Jen Mason, festival co-chair. “Those who attended last year’s event - both our audience and our authors - had so much fun. A book festival dedicated to history may sound like a snooze-fest to a lot of folks, but I can assure you that these authors and books will be anything but. The presentations and Q&As are lively and engaging, and the book signings that follow each talk provide a wonderful chance for one-on-one exchanges with these authors.”

Several authors of books on the history of civil rights are included in this year’s schedule. Janet Dewart Bell will talk about “Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement,” her groundbreaking collection based on oral histories of the overlooked leadership of African American women in the 20th century fight for civil rights. Robert W. Fieseler, author of “Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation,” will reconstruct the 1973 arsonist’s fire in New Orleans that was the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. 

Jazz lovers won’t want to miss Quincy Troupe, author of “Miles and Me,” a truthful, loving story of the legendary jazz artist, Miles Davis, and the entire catalogue of Davis’ recordings. Troupe, a journalist, activist, and poet, became Davis’ friend. His screenplay based on the book will be released in 2019 as a major motion picture. 

For sports enthusiasts, this year’s festival features Daniel de Visé, author of “The Comeback: Greg LeMond, the True King of American Cycling, and a Legendary Tour de France.” Months after being the first American winner of the Tour de France, LeMond had a serious accident, made a remarkable recovery, and won twice more. 

U.S. history and politics figure prominently this year, with Kerri Maher, author of “The Kennedy Debutante,” a novel about Katherine Kennedy, the largely forgotten daughter of this dynastic family and how she chose her own path. The first scientific discoveries of one of the founding fathers are the focus of Nick Bunker’s “Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity.”

Joseph Esposito will discuss the historical implications of a stunning guest list in his work, “Dinner at Camelot: The Night America’s Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House.” On the darker side of politics, Eleanor Herman, author of “The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Places, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicines, and Murder Most Foul,” will trace poison as a political tool from the Middle Ages to today. 

There are many more great authors and books on this year’s schedule. For more information, and to purchase tickets to the keynote, go to