Literary Festival Going Strong

Tuesday April 23, 2024

REGIONAL – This year’s Newburyport Literary Festival, which begins on Friday, will be the last time that Victoria Hendrickson, its director, founder and muse, will head the popular event.
She leaves the event that attracts some of the best novelists, writers and poets in a strong position financially and with volunteers who seek to carry on this literary tradition for the North Shore.
“We have good people coming up,” Hendrickson said last week.
Now in its 19th year, the festival, which costs about $45,000 a year to run, is also in good financial health. “We always need money,” she said. But support from its sponsors, led by the original founders, the Newburyport Bank and Institution for Savings, continues to be solid.
More than 100 individual donors are listed on its web page, including 20 anonymous contributors.
Each year, the festival showcases in rotatation fiction and non-fiction writers, poets and young adult writers. This year, in honor of non-fiction writers, the festival is featuring local historians Bethany Groff Dorau, Dyke Hendrickson and Ghlee E. Woodworth.
“We’re proud to honor three local historians at this year’s festival,” Vicki Hendrickson said. “We are excited to celebrate the people and landscape of our coastal community and surrounding towns with stories that are rich and engaging.”
Dorau is the executive director of the Museum of Old Newbury, after 21 years with Historic New England. She is the author of A Newburyport Marine in World War I: The Life and Legacy of Eben Bradbury and A Brief History of Old Newbury and has won several awards for preservation advocacy and museum leadership. She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts.
A 12th-generation Newburyport native, Woodworth created Newburyport’s Clipper Heritage Trail, a series of self-guided history tours accessed on the web, in brochures and on smartphones. She is a prolific writer with Tiptoe Through the Tombstones, Oak Hill Cemetery and Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail Volume I and II.
If you have questions about Newburyport’s maritime history, Dyke Hendrickson can answer them. The former journalist recently published his eighth book, Reclaiming the Merrimack: An Action Plan to Clean the River. He has also authored books on the Coast Guard, Newburyport’s maritime history and on Plum Island.
The opening ceremony, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday at the Firehouse Center for the Arts, brings the historians together to tell stories, moderated by former Newburyport Daily News editor Richard K. Lodge.
The event, the only event that costs money, includes a light supper and cash bar at The Grog Restaurant, 13 Middle Street. Tickets are $25 and are available online at or by check, made out to the Newburyport Literary Association, Box 268, Newburyport, MA 01950.
Saturday morning begins early at 8:30 a.m. with the popular Breakfast with the Poets at the Central Congregational Church.
Come with comfortable shoes as you race from one venue to another to meet and listen to a wide range of biographers, poets, novelists and journalists discuss their work. New this year is Kate’s Place, featuring author Kate Bolick in conversation with authors Nicholson Baker, Lucy Sante, Oline Eaton and Annie Weatherwax.
Kate’s Place will convene what is being described as a Salon at 3 p.m. Saturday at The Dance Place in the Tannery Marketplace.
Saturday evening will focus on music and a book at the Firehouse with a performance by musical duo Green Heron. Journalist James Sullivan will moderate a conversation between Rounder Records’ founders Marian Levy, Ken Irwin and David Manconi, who recently released a book about the founding of their record company, Rounders Records. Beginning at 6:45 p.m., they will discuss their book, Oh Didn’t They Ramble – Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music.
Sunday events will be virtual between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. so people from around the world can enjoy the Newburyport festival.
For a schedule, list of authors and to register for virtual events, visit
“One of the greatest gifts that we can give our community is to instill a love of books and reading,” wrote Michael Jones, president of the Institution for Savings. “The Newburyport Literary Festival does just that by dedicating an entire weekend to celebrate great literature, writers and readers.
Lloyd Hamm, President of the Newburyport Bank, wrote, “The Newburyport Bank, a community bank since 1854, has and will always be committed to supporting community-based initiatives such as the Newburyport Literary Festival, which encourages people of all ages to read.”
Official bookstores of the event are Jabberwocky Bookshop and The Book Shop of Beverly Farms. Prior to and during the Festival, The Book Shop of Beverly Farms will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of featured authors’ books to BINC (Book Industry Charitable Foundation). To purchase a book, please visit
Registration is required for Sunday’s virtual events.

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