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Acclaimed novelist, Buckhannon native Jayne Anne Phillips to speak at the Opera House on April 11

BUCKHANNON — On April 11, Buckhannon native and internationally acclaimed writer Jayne Anne Phillips will visit her hometown for “An Evening with Jayne Anne Phillips” at 6 p.m. at the Buckhannon Opera House, 12 E. Main St. in Buckhannon.

“I’m so glad to be coming to Buckhannon,” Phillips said. “There’s just no substitute for having grown up in West Virginia.”

Phillips recalls that, when she was growing up in Buckhannon, she used to read her fellow Girl Scouts chapters from her first “novel” at their meetings.

“Myself and all my friends were in the novel,” she said. “And then the heroine moves to New York City and falls in love with a gang member. And there are wars going on in the subway tunnels and all. The interesting thing was that they kept wanting to hear it, even after they’d been written out. And that was my first sense of writing something that people were interested in.”

She grew up to be an internationally acclaimed writer, published in 12 languages and winner of an Academy Award in Literature, among other prestigious awards and fellowships.   

The event is co-sponsored by Argo Books and Voices of West Virginia (, a new website that makes it easy for West Virginians to connect with 14 of West Virginia’s finest writers, including Phillips.

Phillips set most of her novels in West Virginia. Machine Dreams is set in central West Virginia during the Depression. Lark and Termite alternates between Buckhannon and Korea. Quiet Dell creates a fictional version of the infamous Quiet Dell murders.

Her latest book, Night Watch, a New Yorker notable Book of the Year, follows a mother and daughter as they navigate treacherous times during and after the Civil War. The novel is set in West Virginia, partially at the TransAllegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston. Phillips will talk about the mix of historical research and fiction, read from Night Watch and answer questions from the audience.

The event is free to the public. Donations will be accepted to help pay the evening’s expenses. Tickets will be available without charge at Argo Books in Buckhannon and online. Seating is limited.

Jayne Anne Phillips is a National Book Award nominee, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, an Academy Award in Literature, and numerous other awards. She is the founder of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Rutgers University.

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