The genesis of the idea to start a Literary Society in Arizona originated from Northern Trust partner Frank Nejdl. He brought the idea to another Northern Trust partner, Harold Dorenbecher, and together they championed the concept. Through their determined efforts, the Literary and Prologue Society of the Southwest became an official non-profit corporation in 2005.  The inaugural Literary Society luncheon was held in November 2007 with Author J. A. Jance presenting her book, a murder mystery, Web of Evil.

There were originally three chapters: Valley [Central Phoenix], Pinnacle Peak [North Scottsdale/Desert Mountain], and in Tucson. In 2010, a fourth chapter was created in the Southeast Valley. This Chapter eventually transitioned to the Camelback chapter to handle the demand in the Phoenix area. Currently, Valley, Pinnacle Peak, Tucson, and Camelback are the present-day chapters that we know and enjoy. Harold Dorenbecher took on the role and responsibility of the president and stayed in that role from that first luncheon in 2007 until March 1, 2020. Without his vision, passion, and dedication to this nonprofit organization it would not exist today, and Northern Trust has been the proud sponsor of this organization since its inception.

Over the past 15 years, the Literary Society has grown to enjoy a membership of more than 600 people. In the spring of 2020, Northern Trust officially transitioned its sponsorship and the leadership of the organization to a member-run board of directors. The new board remains committed to hosting new and seasoned authors to present their works at luncheons in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. They also enthusiastically embrace the Literary Society’s mission of promoting literacy and philanthropy in the community.

Annual Report to Members

The LSSW fiscal year ended June 30, 2020. The report highlighting the financial and managerial outcomes for the year can be found here and the Federal 990 tax return can be found here.

Past Authors

2019-2020 Season

Daniel Mason | The Winter Soldier


David Blight | Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom


Delia Owens | Where the Crawdads Sing


Marie Benedict | Lady Clementine


Victoria Johnson | American Eden


2018-2019 SEASON

Charmaine Craig – Miss Burma

Tayari Jones – An American Marriage

Susan Orlean – The Library Book

Madeline Miller – Circe 

Willy Vlautin – Don’t Skip Out on Me

Evan Thomas – First: Sandra Day O’Connor: An Intimate Portrait of the First Woman Supreme Court Justice

2017-2018 SEASON

Kate Moore – The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

Tracy Kidder – A Truck Full of Money: One Man’s Quest to Recover from Great Success

Joshua Hammer – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

Ellen Umansky – The Fortunate Ones: A Novel

Ronald White – American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

Victor Lodato – Edgar & Lucy

2016-2017 SEASON

Anthony Marra – The Tsar of Love and Techno

Ann Goldstein translated for Elena Ferrante – Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey

Paula McClain – Circling the Sun

Douglas Waller – Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan

Allison Pataki – Sisi: Empress on Her Own

Janice Nimura – Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back

2015-2016 SEASON

Karen Joy Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Eric Foner – Gateway to Freedom: Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Greg O’Brien – On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s

Aline Ohanesian – Orhan’s Inheritance

Dean Jobb – Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler

Elizabeth Berg – The Dream Lover

2014-2015 SEASON

Meg Wolitzer – The Interestings

Peter Heller – The Painter

Melanie Benjamin – The Aviator’s Wife

Laila Lalami – The Moor’s Account

Scott Anderson – Lawrence In Arabia

2013-2014 SEASON

Mark Helprin – In Sunlight and in Shadow

Colum McCann – Transatlantic: A Novel

Sena Jeter Naslund – The Fountain of Saint James Court

Vaddey Ratner – In the Shadow of the Banyon

B. A. Shapiro – The Art Forger

2012-2013 SEASON

Amor Towles – Rules of Civility

Tatjana Soli – The Forgetting Tree

Geraldine Brooks – Caleb’s Crossing

Robert Massie – Catherine the Great

Luis Alberto Urrea – Queen of America

2011-2012 SEASON

Jennet Conant – A Covert Affair

Thrity Umrigar – The Space Between Us

Arthur Phillips – The Tragedy of Arthur

James Robertson – The Untold Civil War

Alexandra Fuller – Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

2010-2011 SEASON

Paul Harding – Tinkers

Paul Theroux – A Dead Hand

Billy Collins – Ballistics

Alice Hoffman – The Red Garden

Daniel Okrent – Last Call

2009-2010 SEASON

Nancy Horan – Loving Frank

Vince Flynn – Pursuit of Honor

Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge

Michael Gross – Rogues’ Gallery

Julia Glass – I See You Everywhere

Author Vaddey Ratner with Gail Bradley, board member, at Arizona Biltmore Resort in 2014.

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