Illinois Honors Its Authors

Hawk_BlackIt’s time to showcase the Prairie State–Illinois–so I searched “Illinois authors” and found a website titled just that:

The Illinois Center for the Book website lists the names of thirty-five authors whose names are etched on the exterior of the Illinois State Library’s Gwendolyn Brooks Building located in Springfield.

One of the authors was born in 1767, about fifty years before Illinois became a state. Black Hawk’s autobiography, Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, was published in 1833 and republished as Black Hawk: An Autobiography in 1955. His birthplace, the village of Saukenuk, is present-day Rock Island.

220px-Baum_1911Abraham Lincoln is on the list–no surprise there–but so is Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, and Upton Sinclair.

The most fun name on the list? L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and all its sequels. I read most of them as a young girl–or at least as many as the library had on its shelves. Baum was born in New York, but lived in Chicago when he wrote the first few Oz stories. “American now had its own home-spun fairy tale,” writes biographer C. D. Merriman for The Literature Network.

brooks2Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), whose name graces the building, was born in Topeka, Kansas but lived most of her life in Chicago.  Among other accomplishments, she was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize (1949) and was Illinois’ Poet Laureate of Illinois from 1968 until her death.

I would have loved to include a photo of Gwendolyn Brooks Building on this post, but I couldn’t find one that was royalty-free. If you have a photo we could use, please get in touch. Thanks!

5 comments on “Illinois Honors Its Authors

  1. What a fun list. It might be a good thing they changed Black Hawk’so title. His given name is a bit hard to remember. But I’ll bet it’s an interesting read.

    • Yeah, Black Hawk’s true name is a bit of a tongue-twister. The book was called “eloquent,” so I’m interested in reading it, too.

      I’d love to see the frieze on the building where the names are etched.

  2. Great list! I have a post about The Wizard of Oz coming up!

  3. I knew someone did when I saw the photo in the media library. Can’t wait to read it.

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