Wisconsin Book Festival

A collection of some of the WHC's Wisconsin Book Festival posters

Founded by the Wisconsin Humanities Council in 2002, every year the Wisconsin Book Festival has brought together hundreds of national and local authors and thousands of readers in downtown Madison. Audiences have heard from Wendell Berry, Isabel Allende, Marge Piercy, Tim O’Brien, TC Boyle, Grace Paley, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Luis Alberto Urrea, Neil Gaiman…the list literally goes on and on…and continues to grow!

In 2013, the WHC transferred management of the festival to the Madison Public Library and Madison Public Library Foundation. The Festival continues to be a huge success and brings new audiences into the newly renovated main-branch library downtown.

In 2014, the WHC sponsored events by Wisconsin authors during the annual Wisconsin Book Festival, as well as ongoing events at libraries throughout the year.  This impressive list included Erika Janik, Jerry Apps, Patty Loew, Ann Bausum, Robin Chapman, Michelle Wildgen, Bridget Birdsall, Michael Perry, and so many more. 

Additionally, Wisconsin is lucky to have regional book festivals sprinkled around the state. Some we have mentored, some we have given grants. We love helping community members come together, share stories, and let conversation and ideas flow.

Looking back at past Festivals

Authors, poets, illustrators, spoken work artists, performers, and more! Presenters from across the state and nation continue to appear on Wisconsin Book Festival stages. They bring their stories, wisdom, humor, and inspiration.

Between 2002 and 2012, when the WHC ran the Festival, we welcomed more than 1,300 presenters! Here are some visual highlights.

A collage of past presenters at the Wisconsin Book Festival 2002 thru 2012A collage of past events and audiences members at the Wisconsin Book Festival 2002 thru 2012A collage of past sponsors and partners of the Wisconsin Book Festival 2002 thru 2012

High school students in the Madison area have a unique opportunity to come downtown for a taste of the Wisconsin Book Festival. In 2011, the WHC worked for the first time with teachers to design a special book festival day for teens. Since then, hundreds have taken part in the Festival’s celebration of books, reading, and ideas.

Handwritten thank you note from students.