2013 Notable Authors

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Frederick Holmes (1883-1946)

Fred L. Holmes, lawyer and author, was born on a farm in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, in 1883. In 1906, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin and shortly thereafter founded the Holmes News Service, which served the press in Wisconsin and elsewhere until 1927. Early in that year, he was admitted to the bar, the profession he followed until his death in 1946. Beginning in 1909, at the suggestion of the late Robert M. La Follette, Mr. Holmes was either business manager or managing editor of the La Follette Weekly for most of the life of that periodical. Although interested in politics, his only venture in office-holding was in 1913, when he served as a Republican member of the lower house of the Wisconsin legislature.

During the last decade or more of his life, Mr. Holmes became interested in history and traveled quite extensively throughout the United States and portions of Canada, taking pictures and gathering material, which he later incorporated into books. He was especially interested in his own state and wrote three books about it, also editing two volumes of Wisconsin in collaboration with Glenn Frank.


Abraham Lincoln Traveled This Way (1930)
George Washington Traveled This Way (1935)
Alluring Wisconsin (1937)
Badger Saints and Sinners (1939)
The Voice of Trappist Silence (1941)
Old World Wisconsin (1944)
Wisconsin: Stability, Progress, Beauty, editor (1946)
Side Roads: Excursions into Wisconsin’s Past (1949)

John Koethe (1945-)

Acclaimed poet John Koethe was born in 1945 in San Diego, California. He began writing poetry as an undergraduate student at Princeton University. After Princeton, he earned a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University. Koethe’s first book of poetry, Blue Vents, was published in 1968. He moved to Wisconsin in 1973 to begin teaching in the philosophy department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Koethe has since published eight more books of poetry, along with two books of philosophy and one book of literary essays. Noted for his meditative and introspective poems, Koethe has received a number of awards and honors, including the Frank O’Hara Award for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000, he was appointed as the first Poet Laureate of the city of Milwaukee. The WLA has recognized him for Outstanding Achievement for his books Falling Waters (1998), Ninety-Fifth Street (2010) and ROTC Kills (2012). Koethe now serves as a Distinguished Professor Emeritas in the Philosophy Department at UW-Milwaukee.


Blue Vents (1969)
Domes (1973)
The Late Wisconsin Spring (1984)
The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought (1996)
Falling Water (1997)
The Constructor (1999)
Poetry at One Remove (2000)
North Point North: New and Selected Poems (2002)
Skepticism, Knowledge, and Forms of Reasoning (2005)
Sally's Hair (2006)
Ninety-fifth Street (2009)
ROTC Kills (2012)

Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye (1850 - 1896)

Edgar Nye, a contemporary of Mark Twain, spent his formative years in Wisconsin, with a couple more in later life. Nye was a distinguished American journalist and humorist. His type of writing included essays, sketches, poetry, satires, narratives and parody. Nye made witty use of anticlimax and understatement; his prose was direct and unadorned, even laconic. His time in the West had a decided effect in his attitude towards humor, as well as the types of humor he selected and developed. Nye was part owner and editor of the Laramie Boomerang (named after his mule), still in existence today. In later life, Nye farmed in Wisconsin, and did lecture tours with James Whitcomb Riley. He died of meningitis in 1896, at the age of 46.

Edgar Wilson Nye was born in Shirley, Maine, the eldest of three sons of Franklin Nye, a lumberman, and Elizabeth Mitchell Loring Nye. The Nye family moved to Hudson, Wisconsin, when Nye was two years old. His only formal schooling was sixteen weeks at the local academy and two terms in a military school at nearby River Falls. When he couldn’t get a job in the area, Nye left the Midwest and headed west to Laramie, Wyoming. After writing for the Laramie Sentinel in 1876 and 1877, where he first used the pen name Bill Nye, he helped to found a rival newspaper, the Laramie Boomerang, in 1881 and was the editor until 1883.


A Howl in Rome (1880)
Bill Nye and Boomerang; or, The Tale of a Meek-Eyed Mule and Some Other Literary Gems (1881)
Forty Liars and Other Lies (1882)
Baled Hay: A Drier Book Than Walt Whitman's "Leaves o' Grass" (1884)
Boomerang Shots (1884)
Hits and Skits (1884)
Bill Nye's Red Book (1906)
Bill Nye's Cordwood (1887)
Bill Nye's Chestnuts Old and New: Latest Gathering (1888)
An Aristocrat in America: Extracts from the Diary of the Right Honorable Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck-Pelham-Clinton-St. Maur-Beauchamp-Devere, K. G. (1888)
Nye and Riley's Railway Guide, by Nye and James Whitcomb Riley (1888)
Bill Nye's Thinks (1888)
An Almanac for 1891 (1890)
Bill Nye's History of the United States (1894)
Bill Nye's History of England From the Druids to the Reign of Henry VIII (1896)
A Guest at the Ludlow and Other Stories (1897)
The Funny Fellows Grab-Bag, by Nye and others (1903)

The Cadi, New York, Union Square Theater, September 21, 1891
The Stag Party, New York, Garden Theater, December 1895