About the Society

This is the blog of the Society of Midland Authors. Viewpoints expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of the Society. To visit our main website, go to midlandauthors.com

When fifty writers formed the Society of Midland Authors on April 24, 1915, their objectives included “a closer association among the writers of the Middle West” and “the stimulation of creative literary effort.” A century later, the Society still accomplishes those goals — hosting literary events, honoring the region’s best books with annual awards, and connecting its members with a newsletter, Twitter and other channels.

LITERARY EVENTS

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The Society hosts literary events, which are free and open to the public. See our events page for details of upcoming programs. Chicago Public Radio’s audio recordings of our programs, including author lectures and panel discussions, can be heard via the “Chicago Amplified” program at http://www.wbez.org/users/society-midland-authors-0

OUR HISTORY

Founding member Hamlin Garland.
Founding member Hamlin Garland.

The Society’s founding authors included Clarence Darrow, Harriet Monroe, Hamlin Garland, Edna Ferber, Vachel Lindsay, George Ade, Mary Hastings Bradley, Emerson Hough, Howard Vincent O’Brien, James Whitcomb Riley and William Allen White. Others who joined soon afterward were Jane Addams, Ring Lardner, Edgar Lee Masters, John T. McCutcheon and Lorado Taft.

Early members Jane Addams, Clarence Darrow, Edgar Lee Masters, Harriet Monroe, Ring Lardner and Vachel Lindsay.
Early members Jane Addams, Clarence Darrow, Edgar Lee Masters, Harriet Monroe, Ring Lardner and Vachel Lindsay.

Crediting John M. Stahl with sparking the idea of an authors organization, the Society’s first president, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, wrote:

None but a bold man would have sought to weld such individualistic — dare I say egotistic? — creatures as authors into a society of any sort.

OUR REGION

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Based in Chicago, the Society includes published authors from twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

AWARDS

A small sample of Society of Midland Authors Award winners and finalists from over the years. For more, see the photo at the top of our blog's home page.
A small sample of Society of Midland Authors Award winners and finalists from over the years. For more, see the photo at the top of our blog’s home page.

Since 1957, the Society has presented annual awards for the best books written by Midwestern authors. Notable winners of the juried competition have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek, Roger Ebert and many more.

The current award categories are Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Biography, Children’s Fiction, Children’s Nonfiction and Poetry. Since 2002, the Society has also hosted the presentation of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism at its annual awards banquet.

See http://midlandauthors.com/winners_past.html for a full list of past winners and runners-up. Also watch our website near the end of each year for details on how to enter the contest.

ONLINE PRESENCE

The Society’s website features information on our public events and annual awards. The website promotes new books by Society members. Member authors are featured in a speakers bureau on the site.

The Society is also on Facebook at facebook.com/midlandauthors.

And follow us on Twitter at @midlandauthors and @BiblioFileSMA for news on Midwestern authors and links to articles on writing and publishing.

HOW TO JOIN

Members must be current or former residents of the twelve Midland states. Each member is the author or co-author of a book demonstrating literary style and published by a recognized publisher, or the author of a published or professionally produced play. The Society also includes associate members — people with a connection to literature, such as librarians, teachers, publishers and editors.

To join, a writer must be nominated by a current Society member. Authors interested in joining may contact the Society through the form and email addresses at midlandauthors.com/contact.html.

Members receive a subscription to Literary License — a newsletter packed with news about the latest books and activities by the Society’s authors — as well as a yearbook including addresses and contact information for fellow members.

NONPROFIT

The Society, a nonprofit corporation run completely by the volunteer efforts of its members, welcomes contributions to help support our awards program and other activities. Contributions are tax-deductible.