The Thornton Endowment brings established writers to campus each semester — novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, essayists, and others. Over a day or two, these visiting writers do a public reading or lecture, and oftentimes they meet with creative writing students for classes or workshops. The visits complement the English Department’s writing courses, which include Introduction to Creative Writing, Fiction Writing, Poetry Writing, and Writing in the Workplace, all of which are taught by University of Lynchburg faculty who are writers as well as teachers.
Richard H. Thornton
Dr. Richard H. Thornton, a 1907 alumnus of Virginia Christian College — now the University of Lynchburg — was a distinguished teacher, writer, and publisher. He became president of Henry Holt and Company publishers and established friendships with such writers as Carl Sandburg, Thomas Wolfe, and Vachel Lindsay. He was both editor of and friend to Robert Frost.
Since 1975, the endowment established in his name has enabled Lynchburg to bring exciting and successful poets, novelists, dramatists, and nonfiction writers to campus. These writers have taught classes, given public readings, and enriched the cultural lives of students, faculty, and other members of the community.
Recent Thornton Readings
March 29, 2023
Kathryn Ormsbee is the author of several books for children and young adults, including “Tash Hearts Tolstoy” and “The House in Poplar Wood.” Her novels have been translated into eight languages, selected for the Indie Next List and Junior Library Guild, and chosen for Scholastic and Target book clubs. They also made “best of” lists on NPR, Amazon, BuzzFeed, and the Chicago and New York public libraries.
April 14, 2022
Sharyn McCrumb, an award-winning Southern writer, is best known for her Appalachian ‘Ballad’ novels. These include the New York Times bestsellers “The Ballad of Tom Dooley,” “The Ballad of Frankie Silver,” and “The Songcatcher.” The book “Ghost Riders” won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Books.
McCrumb was named a Virginia Woman of History by the Library of Virginia and a Woman of the Arts by the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also given a merit award for literature by the West Virginia Library Association (2017) and the Mary Hobson Prize for Arts & Letters (2014). Her books have been named New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable Books.
Sept. 21, 2021
Margaret Renkl is the author of “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss.” She is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear each Monday. Her work has also appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Oxford American, River Teeth, and The Sewanee Review, among others. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, she lives in Nashville.
Nov. 10, 2021
Terrance Hayes is the author of six poetry collections: “American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin,” a finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and T.S. Eliot Prize; “How to Be Drawn”; “Lighthead,” winner of the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; “Muscular Music,” recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; “Hip Logic,” winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series; and “Wind in a Box.” His prose collection, “To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. Hayes has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and Whiting Foundation, and is a professor of English at New York University.
March 4, 2021
Jer Bryant ’03, ’10 MA, MFA
Assistant Professor of English
Richard H. Thornton Chair
Director of the Wilmer Writing Center