The Rose O’Neill Literary House helps the students of Washington College to see themselves as part of a global community of writers: serious, professional, inquisitive, and committed to the craft of writing. In addition, we create opportunities to celebrate the articulate word nationally and internationally, and we support writers through our Reading Series, our Literary House Press, our literary collaborations (both local and national), and through our robust internship program which pairs advanced students with writers and literary organizations.
The Rose O'Neill Literary House is celebrating 50 years of literary houses at Washington College in 2022-23 with a mix of virtual and in-person events. While the campus policy for students stipulates that masks are optional, we ask out of the health and safety of our esteemed visitors and staff that you bring a mask to the Lit House. We are a small staff and a few of us are immuno-compromised (or care for someone compromised at home) and while severe illness may be mitigated by vaccines, it can have serious consequences for our events and our staff if we do not take precautions. Thank you for your compassion!
Applying or enrolling here at WC? Visit us at the Lit House!
Tours are available Monday through Friday during 2 set times: 11:45-12:15 and 3:15-3:45. Contact Admissions or just drop in and meet our fabulous and knowledgeable student guides.
The Literary House brings together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across disciplines. It is a cultural center which hosts programs, classes, and student-run clubs and activities. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word. Our annual events provide access to a wide variety of texts, including fiction, poetry, journalism, creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, songwriting, playwriting, and hybrid forms. Our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants to both new and old technologies.
Further reading: An Introduction for New Faculty
The Lit House turns 50 years old in 2022! That's a half-century of launching literary lives and building a welcoming, robust literary community for our students and Chestertown friends!
The famous poster collection that adorns our walls reads like the best of literary graffiti: Toni Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Allen Ginsberg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carolyn Forché, Grace Paley, and Claudia Rankine were here. Writers who have visited the Lit House have won Pulitzers, National Book Awards, and Nobel Prizes in Literature.
The Lit House was founded in 1970.“Richmond House,” as it was then known, remained
in its original structure until 1982. For a brief time, writing students called Dorchester
their Lit House. Then, in 1985, the Bell House across campus was acquired thanks to
the generosity of Mrs. Betty Brown Casey ’47 and her husband Eugene B. Casey. The
House was renamed in honor of Eugene Casey’s mother, Rose O’Neill Casey.
You can read more about our history, and our founding director, Bob Day, here (with thanks to Jim Dissette for putting these essays together).
If you’re interested in supporting the work we do here at The Rose O’Neill Literary House, please contact Lit House Director James Allen Hall.
Current funding priorities include our internship program, “The Light of Day,” which has connected students with literary organizations such as Pen Parentis, Copper Canyon Press, NPR, and Book TV, as well as with professional authors for whom they serve as research assistants.
Another opportunity for giving is our reading series, which the Washington Post has called “the Carnegie Hall of readings.” What makes us special is that our authors meet with students to discuss their writing. Imagine having met with Toni Morrison or recent Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown about your writing!
We also publish a national literary journal, Cherry Tree, which features outstanding literary work by established and emerging authors, and which provides student learning opportunities in editing, marketing, design, and publishing.
And each year we run the Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference, which showcases Washington College’s vibrant literary community for high-school age writers.
Donate to the Lit House and help us to inspire the next generation of poets, journalists, playwrights, and storytellers!