The Richmond Theater Fire: Early America’s First Great Disaster (Louisiana State University Press: February, 2012) is the award-winning account of a devastating Virginia fire in 1811. The Richmond Theater fire was the deadliest urban disaster in the early years of the United States. It stunned the nation and became an important catalyst for religious and cultural transformation in the early republic. After six years of researching unpublished records, diaries, and letters, author Meredith Henne Baker has written the first full-length book about the fire and its impact on life in the nineteenth century. This story of transformation comes alive through the accounts of the slaves, debutantes, ministers, and statesmen who were the fire’s victims and survivors. For reviews and interviews about The Richmond Theater Fire visit this page.
The Richmond Theater Fire received the 2012 Jules and Frances Landry Award, bestowed annually to the most outstanding book on a southern topic published by LSU Press. Honoring innovative works that they believe will have great impact, the Landry is considered the most prestigious literary award in the field of Southern Studies. Through the years, the winners have represented a wide range of fields and methods of inquiry, but all have made notable contributions to the study of the South. Previous winners include four Pulitzer prize winners and such notable names as John Hope Franklin, Robert Penn Warren, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Lewis P. Simpson.
The Phi Alpha Theta National History Honorary Society also awarded The Richmond Theater Fire the 2012 Phi Alpha Theta Best First Book Award, a prestigious and highly competitive honor. (LSU’s press release about the award may be read here.)
Meredith Henne Baker received her graduate degree in American History and a museum studies certificate from the College of William and Mary. She currently writes from Washington, D.C. where she lives with her husband and two small children. This is her first book.
Where can I find it?
LSU Press publications may be found at all major booksellers, through online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on the LSU Press website. The book is available in an e-reader version for Nook and Kindle as well. Thank you for your interest!