About the Archive Literary Festival

Every year, the Archive Literary Festival (formerly known as the Blackburn Literary Festival) brings nationally acclaimed authors to Duke University and hosts local writers and faculty members for public readings. With past speakers including Toni Morrison, John Updike, Eudora Welty,  Bernard Malamud, Joseph Heller, Richard Eberhart, James Wright, W.D. Snodgrass, and Elizabeth Bishop, the Festival has succeeded in bringing a myriad of talents to the University. More recently, such acclaimed poets, novelists, and essayists as Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, Warsan Shire, Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates, Sharon Olds, Garth Risk Hallberg, Colum McCann, Jonathon Safran Foer, Michael Ondaatje, Ron Hansen, W.S. Merwin, Don DeLillo, and Michael Cunningham have read excerpts from their work for Duke students and members of the community. As its history suggests, the Archive Literary Festival is Duke’s premier forum for the celebration of all types of literature.

The Archive Literary Festival is designed to encourage the appreciation of literature and bolster the greater Duke community’s access to accomplished writers’ insights and literary works.

The Archive Literary Festival at Duke University has a rich and distinguished history. Established in 1959 by Professor William Blackburn, the Festival began as a series of student-run literary gatherings aimed at making literature more accessible to Duke students. The Festival was originally named after The Archive Literary Magazine and, in its first year, hosted writers William Styron and Randall Jarrell. In honor of its founding professor, the festival changed its name 1969, remaining The Blackburn Literary Festival through 2016, when it readopted its original title. Today, the Archive Literary Festival tradition continues, sharing and cultivating a passion for literature throughout the entire Duke community.