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Pike County’s Literary History

Pike County’s literary history goes back to the late 18th century, when British émigré Solomon Jackson settled in Pike County before launching The Jew, the first Jewish periodical in America. Red Badge of Courage author Stephen Crane spent the summer of 1894 camping with friends in Shohola and published a satirical newspaper, The Pike County Puzzle. In the 1840s, New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley financed the Sylvania Colony (now Greeley, PA), although he did note, “There are five gallons of whisky to one spelling book in Pike county.”

Edmund Clarence Stedman, known as “the bard of Wall Street” wrote poetry about Pike County in the late 19th century (“…streams as virginal as when they were the Indian maiden’s bath and mirror. They tumbled over great bluffs into the… welcoming river… Shut in with woods and buttressed with mighty walls of rock (were) cascades lovely as any in the world…”)

In the summer of 1934, You Can’t Go Home Again author Thomas Wolfe lived and wrote at the Hotel Fauchère. Poets Robert Frost and Ogden Nash both visited Milford; Kurt Vonnegut set scenes in and references Milford in God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater and in his books thriller writer Harlan Coben frequently sets scenes in Pike County.

Many science and speculative fiction and fantasy writers–including Judith Merrill, Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison and others–lived or spent time in Milford.   In the 1950s, Damon Knight and other science fiction writers launched the Milford Writers Conference, held annually until 1972 when it moved to Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, England and renamed “United Kingdom Milford SF Writers’ Conference.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes while living in Milford in the 1990s; Siddhartha Mukherjee (Emperor of all Maladies), Colm Tóibín (The Master), Gloria Steinem (My Life On the Road), Robin Morgan (Sisterhood is Powerful), Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross), M.K. Asante (Buck: A Memoir), Brad Gooch (City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara), National Book Award honoree John Casey (Spartina) and many other prominent writers have all been Hotel Fauchère guests in recent years.  John Berendt (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) is not only a frequent visitor, but wrote about Milford in Travel+Leisure magazine. 

The list above doesn’t begin to include amazing writers who live in Pike County today. We salute them, we welcome you to Milford and we are proud to be a sponsor of the Milford Readers & Writers Festival.