This summer the Topeka Room helps celebrate our summer reading themes of “Dig into Reading” and “Groundbreaking Reads” by featuring books by a variety of authors with Topeka connections in the display cases on the second floor. A sampling of fiction, children’s books, poetry, graphic novels, and plays have been chosen from the Topeka Room collections. If you don’t see your favorite Topeka author in the display, come into room 204 and check out the full collection.
When were these authors in Topeka? Some of the authors are current residents, some were born here and now reside elsewhere, and yet others came here for work, college, or with the air force. They represent a wide variety of generations from Henry Inman, who lived in Topeka from 1857-1899, to Anna Riphahn, who wrote and illustrated her first published book at age 13 in 1996.
Many of these authors were/are influential well beyond Topeka. Rex Stout, member of the Topeka High class of 1903, created the celebrated detective Nero Wolfe. Charles Sheldon, who resided in Topeka from 1890 to 1946, originally coined the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” Hal Foster, who lived in Topeka from 1936 to 1940, was a nationally syndicated cartoonist with “Tarzan” and “Prince Valiant.” Kathleen Woodiwiss lived in Topeka during the 1960s as an Air Force wife, and changed the course of the Historical Romance genre from chaste to carnal. Aaron Douglas from the Topeka High class of 1917 and Langston Hughes, who lived in Topeka 1908-1909, were major figures in the Harlem Renaissance. Playwright William Gibson lived here from 1939 to 1947 and wrote the Tony-award winning play “The Miracle Worker” about Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan.
Want to discover Topeka’s literary treasures? Get inspiration from the display and the Topeka Room collection and read local authors this summer. Works by many of the featured authors are in the circulating collection on the main floor. For a full list of featured authors, stop by the Topeka Room (204).