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Wells College (English Department)

General Information


Wells College is a four-year college granting the bachelor of arts degree, Wells is private and nonsectarian. The college was established in 1868 by Henry Wells, a legendary figure in 19th century American history, and was a women’s college until 2005, when it became coeducational. The campus is located in Aurora, New York, a village of 500 on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes. Wells is a half hour from Auburn and Ithaca, an hour from Syracuse and Rochester, and five hours from New York City.

Wells College’s Visiting Writers Series, in its current incarnation, was established in 1973, and has been going strong ever since. Under the auspices of the Series, which at present is supported by Wells College, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Virginia Kent Cummins Fund (for poets), the Mildred Walker Fund (for fiction writers), and gifts from friends and alumnae, the college brings to campus each academic term an average of three or four writers who have distinguished themselves in poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. These writers not only give free public readings of their work; they also conduct writing workshops, participate in classes and discussions, and often hold individual conferences with interested student writers.

Among the hundreds of writers Wells has hosted over the years, many have been top figures in their field who have won such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. One (the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky) was even a Nobel Prize winner. Yet, the Visiting Writers Series selects only those writers who can bring something special to the close-knit Wells community, which has had its continuously growing share of ambitious and committed undergraduate writers.

Visiting writers are frequently editors and publishers, or are involved in graduate writing programs, and all have wide publishing experience, so they are informative to students about practical matters relating to the literary scene and publishing in addition to providing hands-on advice and criticism. Sometimes there are group readings by editors and writers representing journals, such as THE HEALING MUSE and STONE CANOE, and by publishers, such as Michael Czarnecki of FootHills Publishing, so that students can gain exposure to the vital work being done all over the country by small presses and literary magazines.

Full Name

Wells College (English Department)


Cayuga (Finger Lakes)

Phone Number

(315) 364-3228