Robert Hellenga | Mar 21


Mar 21 | 2P | Vernon Hills

Robert Hellenga published his first story in 1973 and his first novel (after 39 rejections) in 1994. His seventh novel, Love, Death and Rare Books will be released in March 2020.

Hellenga grew up in Three Oaks, Michigan and spent summers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his father, a commission merchant with a seasonal business, handled produce that was shipped there from what was then the world’s largest farmers market, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The men who worked for his father were almost all Italians, and this is how he got his first sense of Italy as something opposed to small-town Midwestern Protestant culture–a theme that has shaped a lot of his writing.

He has taught English literature at Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois, since 1968. During his tenure at Knox he directed two programs for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, one at the Newberry Library in Chicago and one in Florence, Italy, and spent a year at the University of Chicago on a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Hellenga spent time in Florence, Bologna, and Verona, where he was a visiting writer at the university.

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