Judy Blume, John Grisham, two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening headline speaker series

The William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series, presented by the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation and its academic partner Case Western Reserve University, will return for its 15th season in September.

All events in the 2018-2019 William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Case Western Reserve’s Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple – Tifereth Israel at 1855 Ansel Road, Cleveland.

Judy Blume 
Wednesday, Sept. 26 

Judy Blume

Photo by Elena Seibert

Judy Blume is one of the literary world’s most beloved authors. She is best known for her children’s and young adult books, including the classics Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972) and Blubber (1974). Blume’s books have sold more than 85 million copies in 32 languages and have been a touchstone for countless young readers. She has received numerous awards, including the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award (1996) for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature, the Library of Congress’ Living Legends Award (2000) and the American Academy of the Arts and Letters’ E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature (2017).

John Grisham 
Thursday, Oct. 25 

John Grisham

Photo by Fred R. Conrad, New York Times

Attorney-turned-author John Grisham has sold more than 275 million books worldwide, making him one of the most successful writers of all time. A master of the legal thriller, his best-known novels include A Time to Kill (1989), The Firm (1991), The Pelican Brief (1992) and Sycamore Row (2013), for which he received the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Nine of Grisham’s novels have been adapted into feature films. In 2009, Grisham received the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction. His latest novel is The Rooster Bar.

Jesmyn Ward, in conversation with Ayana Mathis 
Wednesday, Nov. 14 

Photo of Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward
Photo by Beowulf Sheeha

MacArthur Genius award-winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as a standout writer of her generation. Her works include the novels Salvage the Bones (2011), for which she received the National Book Award; the memoir The Men We Reaped (2013), which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and earned her the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize; and the novel Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), for which she received her second National Book Award. Ward is the first woman and the first person of color ever to win two National Book Awards for Fiction.

Photo of Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis
Photo by Elena Seibert

Jesmyn Ward will be interviewed on stage by Ayana Mathis, author of the stunning debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (2013), which was hailed as one of the best books of the year by The New York TimesThe Boston Globe and National Public Radio (NPR). Mathis’ nonfiction writing has appeared in such notable publications as The New YorkerGlamour and The Financial Times. She holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman to be a permanent faculty member of the renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she teaches English and creative writing.

Timothy Egan 
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Photo of Timothy Egan

Photo by Lisa Howe Verhovek

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times columnist and best-selling author Timothy Egan has written eight books, including The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Stories of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (2006), for which he won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (2012), for which he won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction; and the best-seller The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America. His latest book is The Immortal Irishman: Thomas Francis Meagher and the Invention of Irish America.

Lynda Barry and Matt Groening 
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 

Photo compilation of Matt Groening and Lynda Barry

Matt Groening and Lynda Barry
Groening photo by Fox Broadcasting
Barry photo by Lynda Barry

In a career spanning more than three decades, cartoonist Lynda Barry has authored 17 books, worked as a commentator for National Public Radio, had regular monthly features in Esquire and delighted readers with her seminal syndicated comic strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek. Her books include the illustrated novel The Good Times Are Killing Me (1988), the serialized comic collection One! Hundred! Demons! (2002) and What It Is (2008), a best-selling creative writing how-to graphic novel. Barry teaches a popular writing workshop called “Writing the Unthinkable” all around the country and is known for her lively teaching style.

Lynda Barry will be joined on stage by her longtime friend Matt Groening, creator and executive producer of The Simpsons, the longest running scripted show in television history, winner of multiple Emmy Awards and voted “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. His weekly comic strip, Life in Hell, was syndicated to more than 250 weekly newspapers throughout the country and is collected in dozens of books and calendars. Groening received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 2012.

Jennifer Egan 
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 

Photo of Jennifer Egan

Photo by Pieter M. Van Hettem

Author Jennifer Egan has written five novels, including The Invisible Circus (1995), which was adapted into a film starring Cameron Diaz; Look at Me (2001), a finalist for the National Book Award; A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Critics Circle Award; and Manhattan Beach (2017), for which she won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta and McSweeney’s among other publications.

Ticket Information 

Series subscriptions for the 2018-2019 William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series are on sale now. Single-event tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 20. A subscription guarantees your seat at each event. Choose your seat when you purchase tickets online at writerscenterstage.org. Call 216.368.6062 to purchase tickets by phone.