A display of local authors’ books at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society. Photo by Richard Barker
A display of local authors’ books at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society.
Photo by Richard Barker

By Richard Barker
Special to the Town Crier

The Idyllwild Area Historical Society recently unveiled a new exhibit “Local Authors, Past and Present.” The 27 books on display reveal the remarkable degree of diversity in the subjects chosen by those authors that found their muse on our mountaintop.

The exhibit was the brainchild of IAHS volunteer Lynnda Hart, who wished to create a counterpart to an earlier exhibit that celebrated local visual artists. Hart recognizes that our mountaintop village has been greatly shaped and defined by artists.

“We are a town of the arts,” Hart said. “We have music, visual arts, dance and that kind of thing, but also, we all know writers that are up here — pretty much everyone has at least one friend who is a writer — and I thought it was time we should showcase that this creative field also seeks out the mountains to be creative.”

Hart and fellow IAHS volunteer Susie Bowman — Lynnda also expressed her gratitude to the manager of the Idyllwild Library, Shannon Ng — created the display. Interspersed with the books are various writing implements from the last 100 years, from quill pens to a manual typewriter (courtesy of Bowman’s mother) to a laptop, imbuing the display with a palpable sense of history.

Works by such local luminaries as Ernie Maxwell and Harry James stand witness to Idyllwild’s past, while the latest generation of writers is well represented by the likes of award-winning authors Eduardo Santiago and Ken Luber.

Hart enthused, “What a diversity. And we should be proud of it and we need to celebrate it.” Her most fervent wish is that by celebrating authors past and present, future authors will be inspired. “Maybe this is a good thing for aspiring authors to come in and see; if you come here and you’re inspired to write, that’s the biggie, that’s the biggie,” she said.

The exhibit strives to be as inclusive as possible; indeed, visitors to the museum are given an opportunity to provide additions to the list of local authors. Hart pointed out that the exhibit’s title references “local” authors in an effort to be inclusive of authors who live on the Hill but outside of Idyllwild proper.

The museum does not sell copies of the books on display, although they do sell books pertaining to local history, most notably the excellent “Idyllwild and the High San Jacintos” by the IAHS’s historian, Robert Smith. The museum’s winter hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. While the display is long-term, it is not permanent, so catch it while you can.