Literary Newark is centered at the University of Delaware, a college town where enrollment is more than 24,000 students, comprising most of Newark.
Besides housing the archive of writer Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson and being the university where science fiction writer Steve Alten’s scientific wonder flourished, it has unusual and distinct literary treasures, such as historic diaries, journals, ships’ logs, recipe books, travel narratives, memoirs, etc., of the region acquired singly by the University of Delaware Library, according to its website.
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Delaware’s Adopted Daughter
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935) was a prolific writer, originally from New Orleans, who was married to Paul Laurence Dunbar, a major African-American poet of the early twentieth century. They lived together in Washington, DC, but the marriage ended in divorce after a few tumultuous years. She then moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where she became a teacher and continued to publish. It was there that she met her second husband, a teacher, whom she also divorced.
According to https://www.blackpast.org: “Her first book, Violets and Other Tales, a collection of short stories, was published in 1895. Later that year she published The Goodness of St. Rocque, and Other Short Stories. Through her career Alice Moore wrote four novels, two volumes of oratory, dramas, newspaper columns, two collections of essays, poems, short stories and reviews, many of which drew on her extensive knowledge of Creole culture. In all of these collections, Alice Moore proved to be a perceptive critic of American society.”
Eventually, she married journalist Robert J. Nelson. Her personal life did not inhibit her voice as she and Robert Nelson propelled their activism together as co-editors of the Wilmington Advocate, an African-American newspaper.
When she died, her ashes were scattered at the Delaware River.
Today, her original works can be accessed at the University of Delaware Library. According to https://www.blackpast.org: “Dunbar-Nelson’s career peaked in the 1920s and early 1930s when she wrote reviews and essays for newspapers, magazines and academic journals. She also continued to write stories, poems, plays and novels.” Read about the University of Delaware collection here: https://library.udel.edu.
Steve Alten, Delaware’s Sci-Fi Favorite Son
Steve Alten (1959 – ) is a best-selling author of young adult science fiction novels and a father of five.
In addition to writing novels, he began a non-profit organization called “Adopt-An-Author” to excite students about reading and writing stories. According to https://www.stevealten.com, teachers are offered free posters, curriculum materials, and even the possibility of direct classroom contact with the author.
Many of Steve Alten’s books are science fiction and his most popular is Meg, which became a major feature film, theatrically released in 2018. It was directed by Jon Turteltaub and starred Jason Statham. Read about it in a UDaily 2018 article here: https://www.udel.edu/udaily/2018/august/meg-movie-sharks-steve-alten.
Interestingly, Steve Alten supports his readers who serve in the US Armed Forces. Read about his efforts here: https://www.stevealten.com/military-fan-tribute.
According to the author’s website, “Steve says his best novel is Grim Reaper: End of Days The story, a modern-day Dante’s Inferno, takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan.” The book was published by Variance Publishing. Read a Publishers Weekly review of it here: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-935142-16-4. It is about a pandemic that strikes New York.
Alten attended the University of Delaware for a sports medicine master’s degree before becoming an author. You can take a self-guided campus tour on Sundays. Health Sciences is part of the Science, Technology and Research [STAR] campus.
The author later received a doctorate from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On the Path
Literary Newark’s University of Delaware is the first stop on our Delaware Author Adventures Trail.