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Acclaimed novelist Jayne Anne Phillips to speak at Downtown Library

Jane Anne Phillips

The West Virginia and Regional History Center will host internationally acclaimed writer Jayne Anne Phillips at 7 p.m. April 12 in the Milano Room in WVU’s Downtown Campus Library. Phillips will read from her recently-published novel, Night Watch and talk about the process of creating a fictional story in a historically accurate setting.

“We are very excited to host Jayne Anne Phillips and learn from her insights on writing historical fiction, especially since so many of her stories are set in West Virginia,” West Virginia and Regional History Center Director Lori Hostuttler said.

Phillips, a Buckhannon native and WVU alumnae, grew up to be a nationally acclaimed writer, have works published in 12 languages and win of an Academy Award in Literature and other prestigious awards and fellowships.

“My work is very much rooted in place,” Phillips said. “The sense of hard reality, the edge in my work, I think, comes from having grown up in West Virginia. There’s just no substitute for growing up there.”

Most of Phillips’ novels take place in West Virginia. “Machine Dreams” is set in central West Virginia during the Vietnam war years. “Lark and Termite” alternates between Buckhannon and Korea during the Korean War. In “Quiet Dell,” she created a fictional version of the infamous Quiet Dell murders.

Night Watch cover

Her latest book, “Night Watch,” a New Yorker notable Book of the Year and National Book Award nominee, follows a mother and daughter as they navigate treacherous times during and after the Civil War. The novel is set partially at the TransAllegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston in its early days.

Phillips is a two-time National Book Award nominee, twice a National Book Critic’s Circle finalist in fiction, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, an Academy Award in Literature, and numerous other awards.

Her website,, features research and information on her books and essays. An hour-long conversation with Phillips, with downloadable transcripts, is available at

Phillips’ visit is co-sponsored by Voices of West Virginia,, a project funded by the WV Humanities Council to help connect West Virginians with their literary heritage.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Hostuttler at or 304-293-1116.