Key West’s Life of Letters

Jimmy Buffett’s death at age 76 on the eve of Labor Day Weekend prompted a tremendous outpouring of news coverage and tributes from fans and others around the globe whose lives were touched by the iconic singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur.

The Key West literary community lost one of its most brilliant and beloved members with the death of Robert D. Richardson last week. He was 86. Richardson was a celebrated historian whose books included biographies of Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Mind on Fire), Henry David Thoreau (The Life of the …Read More

By Arlo Haskell — “Key West lost one of its defining figures this week with the death of David Wolkowsky. He was 99. I was lucky to know David and count him as a friend throughout my adult life. From the moment I met him, in the winter of 2001-02, I was charmed by his unique combination of refined elegance and deep informality…”

Liz Lear arrived in Key West in 1957 and soon became an essential member of Key West’s literary community. Liz was a vital presence during the early years of the Key West Literary Seminar and, until her death on December 15, 2017, served on our board of directors for nineteen years. On February 5, a memorial service was held in the gardens of the West Martello Tower. Tributes were made by friends and admirers including Ann Beattie, Lee Smith, Miles Frieden, Hal Crowther, and Joy Williams, whose eulogy is reproduced here.

In 1986, the Fourth Annual Key West Literary Seminar was devoted entirely to the playwright Tennessee Williams. “Tennessee Williams in Key West” brought a number of Williams’s friends and associates to Key West, including publisher James Laughlin and playwright James Leo Herlihy.

One of the earliest known travelogues of the Florida Keys and Key West has been uncovered in South Carolina at the College of Charleston. It establishes, among other things, that Key West’s reputation for drunkenness and questionable behavior has done nothing to dissuade talented writers from visiting the place for …Read More

David A. Kaufelt, a novelist who founded the Key West Literary Seminar and did more to establish the island city as a fixture in the national literary consciousness than anyone since Ernest Hemingway, died this weekend at his Flagler Street home. He was 74. He arrived in Key West from …Read More

Lyndsay Faye is the author of three inventive, intriguing, and carefully researched novels that interweave fiction, the historical record, and popular culture. Her debut novel Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H Watson is a tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s archetypal detective hero, …Read More