History Book Festival to kick off with virtual keynote May 20

May 11, 2021

The History Book Festival will celebrate its fifth year in 2021 with free admission to separate keynote events featuring noted authors of newly published historical fiction and nonfiction works.

Because publishers have not resumed author tours due to the ongoing pandemic, the festival will begin in virtual form, with authors engaging in live, moderated discussions and question-and-answer sessions.

“Virtual presentations via Zoom, coordinated with the Lewes Public Library, worked extremely well during 2020 and were positively received by participants,” said Ronald Collins, History Book Festival co-founder and co-chair. “Although we will begin the 2021 festival programs virtually, we remain optimistic that we will be able to return to in-person presentations later in the year.”

Unlike previous festivals, in which keynote and closing presentations were ticketed events, the 2021 programs will be free of charge.

“We’re grateful for the tremendous participation of our audience members and the support of our donors as we adapted to a virtual format last year,” said Jen Mason, co-founder and co-chair. “Free admission to this year’s fiction and nonfiction keynote events is our way of saying thanks.”

The 2021 festival will kick off with a keynote presentation by Lisa Scottoline, author of the historical novel “Eternal.” Martha Hall Kelly, the best-selling author of the novel “Lilac Girls” and other works of historical fiction, will be in conversation with Scottoline. Though the event is free, preregistration is required. To reserve a spot for the virtual program, go to

“Eternal” tells the tale of a love triangle that unfolds in the heart of Rome, in the creeping shadow of fascism.

Scottoline is the best-selling author of 32 novels that have been published in 35 countries. She is best known for her mystery thrillers, but “Eternal,” her first historical novel, is the culmination of a lifetime of interest in the Italian Holocaust. She attributes that interest to a writing seminar at the University of Pennsylvania led by Philip Roth called The Literature of the Holocaust, which explored the work of Italian Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, among others.

Copies of “Eternal” are available at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, the official bookseller of the History Book Festival. Biblion in Lewes also has copies of the book for sale. Books purchased at either shop come with a signed archival bookplate.

Mason said the 2021 History Book Festival will include weekly online programs, as well as a second keynote event featuring a prominent nonfiction author. Details will be announced soon.

Presenting sponsors of the 2021 festival are Delaware Humanities and the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty.

In addition to the Lewes Public Library, the festival’s virtual programs are supported by the Delaware Division of Libraries and Sussex County Libraries.

The History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history. For more information and to register for the May 20 keynote program, go to


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