Kathleen Kent: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Kathleen Kent

Best-selling Historical Fiction Novelist, Salem Witch Descendant

Kathleen Kent is one of America’s most treasured historical fictions writers, and has her own place in history. She is a native Texan: growing up in the state and attending the University of Texas Austin where she majored in history. She is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused, found guilty and executed during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Although Kent moved to New York for twenty years—first to work in commodities and then for a US company doing defense conversion in Russia, Kent eventually returned to Texas with her family. In Dallas, she resigned herself as chief operating officer of her company in order to write her debut novel, The Heretics’ Daughter. In the novel, she uncovers a connection to a dark and chaotic time in America and shares the story of her ancestor Martha Carrier’s own trial and execution in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Heretic’s Daughter tells the story of Martha Carrier through the eyes of her young daughter, Sarah. Using family stories passed down through generations Kent shares with readers her grandmother’s experience as a young mother and scorned citizen throughout her trial and eventual hanging. The book is now in its fourth printing, and the New York Times Book Review called it “a powerful coming-of-age tale in which tragedy is trumped by an unsinkable faith in human nature.” It has been published in 15 countries and is regarded as a national bestseller. Kent’s retelling of her distant great-grandmother’s execution during the Salem witch trials, as seen through the eyes of her young daughter Sarah Carrier, gripped readers and critics alike. It also heralded the arrival of one of the most talented historical novelists writing today. It won the 2008 David J. Langum award for American Historical Fiction.

Kent returned with The Wolves Of Andover, a prequel to her smash debut. Both a love story and a tale of courage and independence, The Wolves Of Andover proves Kent’s ability to craft powerful stories of family from the dramatic background of America’s earliest days. The Wolves Of Andover follows Sarah Carrier’s mother, Martha, unwed at nineteen and nearing spinsterhood, as she moves in with her cousin and her family.

There, she meets Thomas Carrier, a man dogged by an aura of mystery and rumors about his past as a soldier in England and a possible connection to the execution of King Charles I. We learn about Martha’s strong will, her courtship by the handsome and smoldering Thomas, and the secrets upon which they build the foundation of a life together. In The Wolves Of Andover, Kent once again brings history to life with vivid details and poignant emotions.

At the podium Kent enchants audiences with the powerful stories of her ancestry. Kent’s ability to bring characters of the past to life on stage just as she does in her novels is uncanny. Exploring historical moments through timeless themes of love, family, and personal fortitude, Kent allows for audiences to connect and relive significant moments in America’s early history. Drawing comparisons to social issues like xenophobia, mass hysteria and Civil Rights, Kent brings a contemporary understanding to the Puritan world, and brings her audience on a unique journey to the gallows and back.

Kent first learned about the Carrier family history from her mother and maternal grandmother when she was a child growing up in Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin, with a major in history, before moving to New York in 1978, where she worked first in commodities and then for a US company doing defense conversion work in the former Soviet Union. After moving with her family back to Dallas, she resigned as chief operating officer of her company to write the story of Martha Carrier’s trial and execution. She spent five years exhaustively researching the Salem witch trials and Early Colonial history, traveling to Massachusetts and visiting old family homesteads and historical buildings, for The Heretic’s Daughter.

Kathleen Kent is the recipient of the David L. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction, and was awarded the American Library Association’s 2014 reading list top pick for historical fiction.

Interested in booking Kathleen Kent to speak at your next event?

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