Baylor Libraries' Distinguished Author Series To Feature 'Mitford' Novelist Jan Karon

July 13, 2001

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Jan Karon, the author of the best-selling "Mitford" series, will visit the Baylor University campus in October, as the inaugural guest author of the Baylor Libraries' Distinguished Author Lecture Series. Tickets for Karon's appearance go on sale Aug. 1.

Karon will talk about her writing and the characters who live in the fictional North Carolina town of Mitford during a lecture and slide show at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, in Waco Hall. The event will be followed by a special patron reception with Karon in Armstrong Browning Library. Tickets will be available at the Bill Daniel Student Center ticket office on the Baylor campus and are $10 for students, $15 for general admission and $50 for patrons.

Karon's books, autographed bookplates and commemorative posters will be available for purchase at the event. All proceeds will be used to provide additional student resources and facilities in the libraries.

"Jan Karon and her 'Mitford' series have captivated readers across the country," said John Wilson, associate professor, government documents librarian and library development coordinator. "She is an ideal fit for Baylor so we and the libraries' Board of Advocates are honored and excited to host her for the Inaugural Distinguished Author Lecture Series."

With a writing style often compared to James Herriot, Bailey White and Garrison Keillor, Karon's six novels capture the "foibles and delights, the mysteries and miracles" of Mitford's hilarious cast of characters, all under the watchful eyes of Father Tim Kavanagh, the long-suffering village rector. At Home in Mitford, Karon's first book in the Mitford series, was nominated for an ABBY by the American Booksellers Association in 1996, 1997 and again in 1998. Her sixth and latest in the series A Common Life, topped the New York Times bestseller list in June, and a seventh Mitford novel, In The Mountain, is scheduled to be released in fall 2002.

Karon wrote her first novel at age 10, but it wasn't until several years ago that she left a successful career in advertising to move to the mountain village of Blowing Rock, N.C., to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an author.

"I stepped out on faith to follow my dream," she said. "I made real sacrifices and took big risks. But living, it seems to me, is largely about risk."

Karon's fans can savor two gift books available this fall, Patches of Godlight: Father Tim's Favorite Quotes and The Mitford Snowmen: A Christmas Story. She also has written two children's books, Jeremy: The Tale of An Honest Bunny and Miss Fannie's Hat.

"I wanted to do something for my daughter that would last a long time -- perhaps even a lifetime. So I wrote a book about a bunny named Jeremy who went on a journey," Karon said. "In the story I included the consoling verse from Psalm 91, the verse we might all hope and pray for our children: 'He will give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.'"

Wilson and the Board of Advocates, a group that promotes awareness of the libraries and assists in fundraising and other outreach programs, hope that the Distinguished Author Lecture Series will familiarize Central Texans with the libraries and the resources provided to the community. They expect more than 2,000 people from throughout the area to hear Karon's October lecture.

"When you get that many people together, and the focus is on libraries, reading and writing, you get people thinking again about the importance of libraries, whether it's the Baylor library or their own city libraries," Wilson said. "We think there will be a ripple effect as we continue this series of bringing the community to Baylor and to the libraries."

In October 2002, the Libraries' Distinguished Author Lecture Series will feature celebrated African-American author Ernest Gaines. The author of such well-known fiction works as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, A Long Day in November, In My Father's House, and A Gathering of Old Men, Gaines' latest novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the 1993 National Book Critics Circle Award. He also has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant for writings of "rare historical resonance."

"Mr. Gaines brings tremendous insight, energy and passion to his writing," Wilson said. "It will be a celebration of life and learning to have him in Waco and on the Baylor campus."

For more information about the lecture series or about library development, contact Wilson at (254) 710-3457. For ticket information, call the Bill Daniel Student Center ticket office at (254) 710-3210.

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