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King University News :: Best-selling Mitford Series Author Jan Karon to Speak in Bristol

New York Times best-selling author, Jan Karon, will speak at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., on Monday, April 23, as part of the 2011-2012 Lecture Series by the Buechner Institute at King College.  Karon is 

“Jan Karon has been a force behind the Buechner Institute since its inception in 2008,” said Dr. Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute at King College.  “We are very pleased that she will finally be on hand to help us continue the conversation.”

Karon’s series, set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with recent detours through Mississippi and Ireland’s County Slago, includes “At Home in Mitford;” “A Light in the Window;” “These High, Green Hills;” “Out to Canaan;” “A New Song;” “A Common Life: The Wedding Story;” “In This Mountain;” “Shepherd’s Abiding;” and “Light from Heaven.”  In addition to the original Mitford series, Karon offers readers a second series, the Father Tim novels, which include “Home to Holly Springs,” and her most recent novel, “In the Company of Others.” 

Another recent addition to the Mitford collection which actively engages the reader is the cookbook, “Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader: Recipes from Mitford Cooks, Favorite Tales from Mitford Books.”  Readers can also enjoy other Mitford stories including “A Continual Feast;” “Esther’s Gift;” “The Mitford Bedside Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Mitford Moments, Author Reflections on the Bestselling Series, and More, Much More;” “The Mitford Snomen;” and “Patches of Godlight: Father Tim's Favorite Quotes.”  

In addition to the best-selling Mitford series, Karon has also penned several children’s books.

“Jan Karon’s Father Tim is beloved by many devoted readers,” said Dr. Katie Vande Brake, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at King College.  “As the Mitford series has unfolded, the solutions this humble pastor finds for bewildering amoral 21st century problems give some simple answers to the W.W. J. D. question.”

Born Janice Meredith Wilson in 1937, Karon was raised on a farm near Lenoir, N.C.  She penned her first novel when she was 10 years old, the same year she won a short-story contest organized by the local high school.  At age 18, Karon began working as a receptionist for an advertising agency in Charlotte, N.C.  Karon went on to have a highly successful career in the field, winning awards for ad agencies from Charlotte to San Francisco.  She rose through the ranks until she became a creative vice president at the high-profile McKinney Silver in Raleigh, N.C., where she garnered the prestigious Stephen Kelly Award, with which the Magazine Publishers of America honor the year’s best print campaign.

At the age of 50, Karon left advertising to pursue her dream of becoming an author, one she had held on to since childhood.  She moved to Blowing Rock, N.C., to pursue her writing career.  After struggling – and failing – to get a novel underway, Karon awoke one night to an image of an Episcopal Priest walking down a village street.  She became curious about him, and started writing.  Soon, Karon was publishing weekly installments about Father Tim in her local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket, which saw circulation double as a result.  The rest, they say, is history.  Karon’s many books have found an audience of more than 30 million readers.

“Jan Karon is an absolute delight,” said Dr. Jennifer Holberg, chair of the Buechner Institute National Advisory Board and professor of English for Calvin College.  “The warmth and conviviality of her stories are readily apparent when she speaks in person.  It makes you want to move to Mitford too.”

The Buechner Institute will present “An Evening with Jan Karon” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 23 at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn.  The event is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Dale Brown at 423.652.4156 or visit