Fairmont Copley Plaza
April 21, 2024 at 6:00 PM


Sunday, April 28, 2019
Boston Park Plaza

THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for the 33rd annual Literary Lights dinner, which was held on Sunday, April 30, 2023, in a new location -- the Fairmont Copley Plaza. This black-tie-optional event is our annual opportunity to honor outstanding writers from the Northeast and to celebrate their contributions to literature, while raising vital funds to support the preservation of the Boston Public Library's Special Collections. Please stay tuned for details for the April 2024 dinner.

Dinner Co-Chairs

Linda Pizzuti Henry, Honorary Chair
Christy Cashman, Co-Chair
Lisa Pierpont, Co-Chair
Julia Cabiness Shivers, Co-Chair


GBH host of Open Studio with Jared Bowen


The 2023 Literary Lights invitation is based on this 1895 lithograph by Will H. Bradley from the Boston Public Library's Print Department

2023 Literary Lights Honorees

Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore, Keynote Speaker

Presented by Diane Paulus

Jill Lepore is a historian, teacher, scholar, award-winning author, and staff writer at the New Yorker. She has written thirteen nonfiction books including These Truths: A History of the United States, which was named one of Time magazine’s top ten nonfiction books of the decade; The Name of War, Bancroft Prize winner; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and The Secret History of Wonder Woman, 2015 American History Book Prize winner. Her newest book, The Deadline, will be published in 2023.

Lepore has been contributing to the New Yorker since 2005, writing about American history, law, literature, and politics. Her essays and reviews have also appeared in the New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, Journal of American History, Foreign Affairs, Yale Law Journal, American Scholar, and American Quarterly; have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latvian, Swedish, French, Chinese, and Japanese; and have been widely anthologized, including in collections of the best legal writing and the best technology writing.

Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University, where she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, the humanities, and American political history. Much of Lepore's scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the histories and technologies of evidence. Lepore is a past president of the Society of American Historians and former Commissioner of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Alex Beam

Presented by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan

Alex Beam is a journalist and author, whose columns were featured in the Boston Globe for 25 years. A John Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 1996–1997, Beam also worked for Newsweek and BusinessWeek, served as the Moscow and Boston bureau chief, and has written for the International Herald Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, Slate, and Forbes/FYI.

Author of seven books, Beam has written two novels set in Russia, Fellow Travelers and The Americans Are Coming! His nonfiction works span the topics of literary history, religion, and mental health. Beam’s Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital explores McLean Hospital’s place in the social and cultural history of New England as well as the history of psychotherapy. A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books examines the lasting legacy of the “Great Books of Western Civilization” launched by Encyclopedia Britannica and the University of Chicago. Both books were named Notable Books in the annual list compiled by the New York Times Book Review. Beam has also written American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church; The Feud; Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson and the End of a Beautiful Friendship; and Broken Glass: Mies Van Der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece.

Alex Beam

Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers

Presented by 826 Boston alumni

Dave Eggers is an award-winning author, publisher, editor, and screenwriter, as well as co-founder of 826 National, a network of youth writing and tutoring centers around the United States, and founder of ScholarMatch, which connect students with resources, schools, and donors to make college possible.Eggers breakthrough memoir and Pulitzer-Prize finalist, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, chronicles his life in San Francisco with his younger brother, after the loss of both of their parents to cancer. Eggers has since gone on to write a number of works of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. These include The Every, The Circle, The Monk of Mokha, A Hologram for the King, What Is the What, The Museum of Rain, Her Right Foot, and the screenplay adaptation for Where the Wild Things Are.Eggers is founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a humor website, and a journal of new writing, McSweeney's Quarterly ConcernEggers is the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award.

Claudia Rankine

Presented by Charles Coe

Claudia Rankine is a critically acclaimed poet, essayist, playwright, editor, and founder of the Racial Imaginary Institute, an interdisciplinary collective of artists and writers who study whiteness and examine race as a construct. She has published several collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric, a National Book Award finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry winner, PEN Center USA Poetry Award, and Forward Poetry Prize winner; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric; and Nothing in Nature Is Private, the Cleveland State Poetry Prize winner. Citizen is the first book in the award's history to be nominated in both poetry and criticism.

Rankine has co-edited American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language; American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics; and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Her poems have been included in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present; Best American Poetry; and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry. Her play Detour/South Bronx premiered in 2009 at New York’s Foundry Theater.

Rankine has been awarded fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Academy of American Poets, National Endowment for the Arts, Lannan Foundation, and Guggenheim Foundation. In 2013, she was elected as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets; and in 2014, she received a Lannan Literary Award.

Claudia Rankine

Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson

Presented by Jane Mayer

Heather Cox Richardson is a writer and American historian specializing in nineteenth-century American politics and economics, whose daily political digest, “Letters from an American” was recognized by Best of Boston as the 2021 Best Pandemic Newsletter. Cox Richardson’s first four books explored the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the American West, and stretched from the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln to that of Theodore Roosevelt. Her The Death of Reconstruction; Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre; and West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War were all selections of the History Book Club. West from Appomattox was also an Editor’s Choice selection of the New York Times Book Review. She is also the author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party, and The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War

Cox Richardson is President of the Historical Society, an organization designed to bring academic history to general readers. Her expertise has been utilized by the New York Times, Bloomberg,, BBC, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Huffington Post; her blogs for the Historical Society won a Cliopatria Award. She is currently a professor of nineteenth-century American History at Boston College. 

Scott Turow

Presented by Joseph Finder

Scott Turow is a lawyer and author of eleven novels that have sold over 30 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages. In 1978, Turow became Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago, prosecuting several high-profile corruption cases including state Attorney General William Scott’s tax fraud case. In 1986, Turow left the U.S. Attorney General’s office to pursue his dream of becoming a novelist and went on to write legal thrillers such as The Burden of Proof, Presumed Innocent, and Pleading Guilty. Personal Injuries was named as the Best Fiction Novel of 1999 by Time magazine. Turow has won the Silver Dagger Award of the British Crime Writers’ Association along with numerous other literary awards. He was elected president of the Authors Guild in 2010.

He has also written two nonfiction books: One L, about his experience as a law student; and Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2003 Book Award. He has frequently contributed essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, New Yorker, and Atlantic.

Scott Turow

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of these outstanding writers, proceeds from Literary Lights support the David McCullough Conservation Fund, William O. Taylor Art Preservation Fund, Associates Endowment Fund, and Associates of the Boston Public Library's operations.

To celebrate safely, the Associates will follow public health recommendations at the time of the event. If applicable, any guidance will be communicated to guests in April. If you are feeling unwell or aware of any coronavirus symptoms, please refrain from attending.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, please click here or contact Laura Russo, Director of Development and External Affairs, at or (617) 536-3886.

Past Literary Lights

The Associates has been celebrating talented authors for the past three decades at Literary Lights and a companion event, Literary Lights for Children. Below is a list of the accomplished authors that we have honored over the years.