Ragdale’s Novel Affair






The plot surely thickened at Ragdale recently when a bevvy of celebrated authors gathered for a weekend of creativity and conversation in support of the landmark artists’ residency built by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in Lake Forest.


Christina Baker Kline personalizing a copy of her work for Ellen Stirling.


Cristina Henriquez signing a book copy for Loan Riedel.

The 11th annual Novel Affair gave the writers, including Christina Baker Kline, Eula Biss, Cristina Henriquez, Eric Charles May, Tea Obreht, Vu Tran, and Jess Walker the opportunity to swap stories with broadcast journalist and filmmaker Mike Leonard, dancers Kristina Isabelle and Piage Cunningham Caldarella, and dance scholar Bonnie Brooks.


Booksigning with Mike Leonard.


Paige Cunningham, Bonnie Brooks, and Roberta and Phil Haebler.


Sally McDonald, Ryan Peterson, Jeff Meeuwsen, and Nicole Peterson.

Nicole and Ryan Peterson hosted the authors, filmmakers, and dancers for a cocktail reception and book signing for 200 guests at Fairlawn, their Lake Forest estate. The authors continued on to dinners in glorious homes where owners showcased one or more authors and artists who shared their stories and favorite reads.

The previous day brought together the authors with over 250 students in area schools from Chicago to Waukegan for Novel Affair’s School Day, a new part of the program. Teachers were also welcomed at the Fairlawn cocktail reception.

Over $75,000 was raised to support residencies for artists and writers, and to benefit the Ragdale in Schools program.

Ragdale’s Cynthia Quick added:

We have a Novel Affair curatorial board of 12 that includes authors, artists, university professors, and Ragdale alumni who make recommendations to our events committee. We seek a diverse roster of accomplished authors and artists who represent varying ages, genders, backgrounds, and perspectives. Many of our Novel Affair authors take advantage of an 18-22 day residence at a future date.”


Erin and Jamal English with Anne and Alan Lerner.


Pride Haggerty enjoying the Fairlawn Estate reception.


Dustin O’Regan, Yvonne Steinwold, and Alison Aldrich.


Robert and Cindy Broten, Phoebe Turner, and Hannah Judy Gretz.


Adrienne Johns, Mike Leonard, and James Whiteley.


Nancy and Adrian Smith with Lorna Marsh.


Loan Riedel and Jess Walter.


Cathy and Phil Rosborough with Judith McBrien.


Chris Keller, Jeanna Park, and Paula Claire.

The Ragdale Foundation provides over 150 artists and writers the time and space to pursue their work in an uninterrupted environment each year. The legendary architect’s summer retreat executed in the Arts and Crafts style features gardens for roaming, a sculpture by daughter Sylvia Judson Shaw, and tranquil studios sure to cure any writer’s block.

Photo credit: William Hartman