KWLS Founder David A. Kaufelt turns 70

KWLS Founder David A. Kaufelt turns 70

David A. Kaufelt on Sugarloaf Key, ca. 1983.

Kaufelt’s Literary Walking Tour, ca. 1986.
Photo by Jeffrey Cardenas.

Kaufelt at the Seminar in 1990

David A. Kaufelt, who capitalized on a successful career in New York as a novelist and executive to found the Key West Literary Seminar nearly 30 years ago, celebrates his 70th birthday today. His books include Six Months with an Older Woman (1973), later adapted for a made-for-tv movie starring John Ritter, American Tropic (1986), a historical-fiction account of the development of Florida, and the series of murder mysteries featuring lawyer-cum-detective Wyn Lewis, among them The Fat Boy Murders (1993).

Kaufelt arrived in Key West in the 1970s with his wife, the former Lynn Mitsuko Higashi, and launched the Seminar in 1983 from an office in the Kaufelts’ Sugarloaf Key home. His guided literary walking tour of the island was a key component of the early Seminars, as popular for the intimate, street-level view it offered of the homes of Key West writers, as it was for Kaufelt’s dapper enthusiasm and infectious charm. In a profile of the tour on National Public Radio, Kaufelt explained Key West’s popularity among writers:

"I have a theory why we all live here- I call it the Peter Pan theory. Freud said that we are at our most creative when we are in our very early youth, before we’re five years old. That’s where we are here. We wear shorts, we ride bicycles, and we’re surrounded by pirates- they’re cocaine pirates, but they’re still pirates- we have the water, a great symbol of the unconscious, and we’re free to be children here and let our spirits go. There’s nobody in suits and ties telling us what we have to do or making us feel guilty."

In shorts, and on bicycles, we say thank you, David, and Happy Birthday!

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