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History Book Festival authors to address a range of topics Sept. 24

August 10, 2022

Freedom, fitness and faith are among the topics authors will discuss Saturday, Sept. 24, during the Sixth Annual History Book Festival in Lewes.

The following authors are among the 20 who will speak about their latest works of historical nonfiction and fiction during the festival.

“Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc” is the newest of thousands of books written about the French heroine who has been viewed variously as a warrior, heretic or saint. Based on meticulous research, author Katherine J. Chen presents Joan as a flesh-and-blood young woman – reckless, steel-willed and brilliant – shaped by a childhood of both joy and violence, who went on to become an unlikely hero as she led the French army to victory and left an indelible mark on history.

Chen is the author of the novel “Mary B,” a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice” published in 2018. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. She earned her master’s degree at Boston University, and received the Florence Engel Randall Fiction Prize.

“We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity and Power” tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full citizens. Thanks to the efforts of Creek leaders, the U.S. government recognized Creek citizenship in 1866 for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when tribal leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks. In “We Refuse to Forget,” author Caleb Gayle explores the complicated racial and economic factors that led to the decision, and highlights the Black Creeks’ campaign to regain their citizenship.

Gayle is an award-winning journalist who writes about race and identity. A professor at Northeastern University, he is a fellow at New America, PEN America, and Harvard's Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, and a visiting scholar at New York University. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic and other publications. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Gayle is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oxford, and has both an MBA and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University.

Fans of physical fitness will enjoy “Sweat: A History of Exercise,” in which author Bill Hayes explores the cultural and scientific history of why and how people exercise, and how the human body works.

Hayes is the author of “How We Live Now,” “Insomniac City” and “The Anatomist,” among other books. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times. Hayes has completed the screenplay for a film adaptation of “Insomniac City,” currently in the works from Brouhaha Entertainment.

“The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier” provides a colorful history of divorce in the late 19th century. Author April White focuses on four prominent women, including a descendent of the Astors and a daughter-in-law of a presidential hopeful, who traveled to Sioux Falls, S.D., to end their marriages. Requiring only a three-month stay to establish residency, Sioux Falls became the center of a national debate that reshaped the country’s attitudes about marriage and divorce.

White, a senior writer and editor at Atlas Obscura, previously worked as an editor at Smithsonian Magazine. Her work also has appeared in The Washington Post and The Atavist Magazine, among others. White has collaborated with nonfiction authors on more than a dozen book projects, and has authored or co-authored eight cookbooks, and several other books on food and drink. She holds a master’s degree in history.

The 2022 History Book Festival begins Friday, Sept. 23, with a keynote presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Buzz Bissinger and concludes Sunday, Sept. 25, with a closing address by Ada Ferrer, winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in History. Tickets for the keynote and closing presentations must be purchased in advance at bit.ly/hbf22-tickets

Throughout the day Saturday, Sept. 24, authors will discuss their books at venues in historic Lewes.

All events except for the keynote and closing speakers are free; seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Biblion in Lewes and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach will have books available for purchase ahead of the festival. History Book Festival titles also may be borrowed through the Delaware Public Libraries system as they are published.

Presenting sponsors of the festival are Delaware Humanities and The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Distilling Company is the funding partner for the keynote address; Joe and Debbie Schell are funding partners for the closing presentation.

The History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history.

To learn more, go to historybookfestival.org.

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