Celebrate the Gore Vidal Bequest to Harvard University 

Join Houghton Library and Creative Writing in the Department of English for "Gore Vidal in His Time”, a talk by Jay Parini, author of Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal. A reception and pop-up exhibition from the Gore Vidal papers follows at Houghton Library.

About the speaker

Jay Parini is a poet, novelist, biographer, and critic. His six books of poetry include New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015 and The Art of Subtraction.  He has written eight novels, including Benjamin’s Crossing, The Apprentice Lover, The Passages of H.M., and The Last Station – the latter was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer and translated into over thirty languages. He has written biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, Jesus, and Gore Vidal.  His nonfiction works include The Art of Teaching, Why Poetry Matters and Promised Land:  Thirteen Books that Changed America.  He writes for various publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He often contributes op-ed pieces to CNN, The Daily Beast, and other websites. Film adaptations of Benjamin’s Crossing and his Gore Vidal biography are currently underway.

Houghton Library

Vidal gave many of his papers to the Library in 2002, with additional papers and his personal library coming after his death. The bequest funds the cataloging and preservation of his papers, as well as endowing the position of Gore Vidal Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts at Houghton Library, a position now held by Leslie A. Morris. Additionally, the Library has established the Gore Vidal Fund for Arts and Letters to support continued acquisitions in modern and contemporary books and manuscripts.

Creative Writing

The Creative Writing program in the Department of English offers courses in fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting, playwriting, and poetry. The Gore Vidal Presidential Fund supports the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing, a position held by Teju Cole beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year.


    Jay Parini


    Houghton Library
    Creative Writing in the Department of English
  • English
  • Theater, Dance, and Media