Iowa Author Awards

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2014 Iowa Author Awards

Travel – Science – Memoir – History - Humor

Whatever your reading taste, the Des Moines Public Library Foundation invites you to an event that fits the “bill!”

Join us for the
2014 Iowa Author Awards Dinner
"An Evening with Bill Bryson"

Saturday, November 8 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Des Moines Marriott Downtown
700 Grand Avenue

The Des Moines native and internationally best-selling author, Bill Bryson, has written more than 20 books, including A Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Bryson’s reflection on growing up in Des Moines), A Short History of Nearly Everything, and his newest work, One Summer: America, 1927.

The evening will include:

  • Presentation by Bill Bryson
  • Michael Gartner as the Emcee
  • A delicious dinner, wine, live and silent auctions
  • The 2014 Iowa Author Award and the Friend of Literacy Award
  • Book signing (books available for purchase courtesy of The Bookstore)

We anticipate a sold-out event, so please consider making your reservation of tickets or a sponsorship today.

Individual tickets are $150 ($110 tax deductible). Sponsorships are also available. Please show you value the critical role the Des Moines Public Library plays in the life of our community by attending this year’s event! For reservations and information click below.

Questions? Please contact Dory Briles, DMPL Foundation Executive Director, at 515.248.6402 or

Sponsor Opportunities Form [pdf]

Ticket Reservation Form [pdf]

Bill Bryson - 2014 Iowa Author Award Recipient

Bill BrysonBill Bryson’s books have sold more than 16 million copies and been translated into over 30 languages. His bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods (currently being filmed in North Carolina and starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte), Notes From a Small Island, In a Sunburned Country, Dictionary of Troublesome Words, At Home: a Short History of Private Life, and A Short of History of Nearly Everything, which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, the European Union’s highest literary award.

Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He moved to England, where he worked for The London Times and The Independent, and wrote for many major British and American publications including National Geographic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Washington Post while developing his diverse literary talents.

His best known book in the Des Moines community is his hilarious childhood memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. In it Bryson travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. In his most recent critically lauded book, One Summer: America 1927, Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy. With the trademark brio, wit, and authority that have made him an internationally acclaimed writer of narrative non-fiction, he rolls out an unforgettable cast of vivid and eccentric personalities to bring to life a forgotten summer when America came of age, took center stage, and changed the world forever. 

Honors Include:

  • 2013 – Made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society, becoming the first non-British citizen to receive the honor.
  • 2012 – Received the Kenneth B. Myer Award from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience in Melbourne.
  • 2012 – Awarded an honorary doctorate from King's College London.
  • 2009 – Made honorary fellow of the Kavli Institute of Particle Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • 2008 - Royal Society of Chemistry started the annual Bill Bryson Prize for the best school science project in the United Kingdom.
  • 2007 – Museum of Science in Boston, gave him the Bradford Washburn Award, its highest award, for contributions to the popularization of science.
  • 2007 – Named Schwartz Visiting Fellow of the Pomfret School in Connecticut.
  • 2007 – Received The James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin and the Golden Eagle Award.

Last Year's Awards

2013 Iowa Author Awards Dinner

Congratulations to the 2013 Iowa Author Awards honorees and the 2013 Friends of Literacy. We are thankful for the many generous sponsors, silent auction donors, and the attendees. Special thanks to Dan Hunter for returning to his hometown from Boston and doing a stellar job as Master of Ceremonies. 

We had several requests for the thought-provoking and inspiring comments made by Douglas and Deborah West, the Friends of Literacy. Their comments are posted here

The Iowa Author Awards Dinner celebrates Iowa’s rich literary heritage. The dinner is the Des Moines Public Library Foundation’s major fundraising event. 

Iowa Author - Charles A. Murray

Charles A. Murray grew up in Newton, Iowa. He is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. He first came to national attention in 1984, with the publication of Losing Ground, which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994, New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve, coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. His most recent book, Coming Apart (2012), describes an unprecedented divergence in American classes over the last half century. Murray holds a Ph.D., political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A., history, Harvard University.

Special Interest Iowa Author – Kelly D. Norris

Kelly D. Norris is a twenty-something, award-winning author and plantsman. He grew up in Bedford, Iowa, where his family operates Rainbow Iris Farm. Norris is the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. He’s popularly known for his 2012 book, A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts, and is at work on his next book tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants. As a speaker he has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture. Norris holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University.

​Children/Young Adult Iowa Author – Wendy Delsol

Wendy Delsol is the author of the young-adult trilogy: Stork, Frost and Flock. The books are inspired by Norse mythology and Icelandic folklore. Stork received a 2010 VOYA Perfect Ten and a 2011 Westchester Fiction Award. Her adult contemporary novel, The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls, was an August 2011 Barnes & Noble “Pick of the Week.” Delsol did not start writing until she was forty. She moved to Central Iowa from Los Angeles seven years ago. Delsol has an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a graduate degree from California State University, Long Beach.

Friends of Literacy – Douglas and Deborah West

Douglas and Deborah West are lifelong Midwesterners. They moved to Iowa in 1970, following the completion of graduate training. Douglas started his career in the field of communication disorders and later embarked on a new career path in the securities industry. Douglas currently works with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC. Cursed with a Calvinist work ethic and a commitment to “give back” to the community, Doug is proud to have served on a number of non-profit boards over the years. Deborah has served on the Des Moines Public Library AViD selection committee.

Friends of Literacy Award Acceptance Speech - Douglas & Deborah West

Master of Ceremonies - Dan Dunter 

Dan Hunter is an award-winning playwright, songwriter, and humorist living in Boston. He is the former Executive Director of the Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and the former Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Dan Hunter is the author of three books and taught creative writing at Boston University. He grew up in Des Moines and fondly remembers his many visits to the public library.