2017 Literary Award Gala

honoring Elizabeth Gilbert

2017 Nashville Public Library Literary Award

A Celebration of Creativity, Courage and Community

Thank you to all who attended and supported our Literary Award Events. The series of events, hosted by the Nashville Public Library Foundation, honored best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, not only for her significant achievements as a writer, but for her unique ability to inspire creativty, exploration and discovery through the written word.

The events kicked off with our annual Patrons Party, where we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Nashville Public Library Foundation with an insightful conversation between library friend and supporter Governor Phil Bredesen and Pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist Jon Meacham.

The following Saturday, Elizabeth Gilbert shared an intimate conversation with Nashville’s own Ann Patchett at our Public Lecture. They spoke about Gilbert’s recent personal journey and her thoughts on writing and the creative process.

That evening, guests gathered for our annual black-tie Gala in the Main Library’s Grand Reading Room. The program included remarks from Mayor Megan Barry and a special tribute to the late Margaret Ann Robinson. After dinner, Ms. Gilbert accepted the 2017 Nashville Public Library Literary Award with a powerful message on the importance of community. 

Thank you to all of our Literary Event underwriters, sponsors, patrons and guests for your support and generosity. The proceeds from these events will help build a brighter city by supporting and empowering one of our greatest resources – the Nashville Public Library.

The Margaret Ann Robinson Leadership Award

A new addition to this year’s Gala was the presentation of the Foundation’s first-ever Margaret Ann Robinson Leadership Award. The award was established this year to recognize an individual or organization which has served as an exemplary steward of, and champion for, the mission of the Nashville Public Library and Foundation, just as Margaret Ann Robinson did for more than 30 years.

Congratulations to our three award recipients:
Governor Phil Bredesen, 
Dollar General Literacy Foundation and
The Turner Family!

2017 Nashville Public Library Literary Award Honoree: Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love has been called “a generation’s instruction manual” by the Toronto Sun. Exploding onto the scene in 2006, the bestseller famously chronicled the year Gilbert spent traveling the world after a shattering divorce. Translated into more than 30 languages, Eat, Pray, Love has sold over ten million copies worldwide.  Gilbert’s first book, a wide-ranging collection of short fiction called Pilgrims, was a New York Times Most Notable Book and won the Ploughshares prize, among many other honors. Her first novel, Stern Men, won the Kate Chopin Award in 2001. Her third book, The Last American Man, which compellingly explores America’s long-standing intrigue with the pioneer lifestyle, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

In 2010, Gilbert published Committed: A Love Story, the breathlessly anticipated follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love followed by her novel The Signature of All Things, which was named as one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, NPR, and Time. The Washington Post called it “that rare literary achievement: a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age.”

In the decade since Eat, Pray, Love, people around the world have sought Gilbert’s advice on how to lead a bold and inspired life, and she has dedicated herself to exploring the mysteries of courage and creativity. Out of this period of introspection comes Gilbert’s brilliant nonfiction treatise, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. In this book, she digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective on creativity.

NPLF 20th Anniversary Celebration & Special Award Presentations

The Nashville Public Library Foundation was founded in 1997 to raise private funds from the community to support and enhance one of our city’s greatest resources – the Nashville Public Library. In this 20th anniversary year, we celebrate the accomplishments of the Nashville Public Library Foundation, and the courage, inspiration and perseverance of those who made the Foundation what it is today.

Reflecting on the Foundation’s 20 year history, and with the passing of our long-time friend and Library supporter, the Margaret Ann Robinson Leadership Award was established to honor Mrs. Robinson’s legacy of giving and advocacy for the Library. The Award was created to recognize an individual(s) and/or organization for serving as an exemplary steward of, and champion for, the mission of the Nashville Public Library and Foundation, just as Margaret Ann did for more than 30 years.

The award will be presented to individuals or organizations which:

  • Exhibit extraordinary leadership in moving the mission of the Nashville Public Library forward through advocacy, service and giving.
  • Act as a champion for the Nashville Public Library and the Foundation throughout the community, convening public and private partners to continuously improve and expand the reach of the Library system.
  • Believe in the power of the Library to bring people together and create a stronger, more literate community.

The Nashville Public Library Foundation is proud to present the inaugural Margaret Ann Robinson Leadership Award to the Turner Family, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, and Governor Phil Bredesen, for their inspiration, courage and perseverance – individually and collectively – to create and grow the Foundation, and therefore the Nashville Public Library system, into the award-winning system it is today.

About the Literary Award

The Nashville Public Library Literary Award was established in 2004 to recognize distinguished authors and other individuals for their contributions to the world of books and reading.  Each year the award brings an outstanding individual to Nashville to honor his or her achievements, to benefit the library and to promote books and literacy. A celebration of the written word, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean declared the NPL Literary Award and Gala his “favorite event of the year.”

The NPL Literary Award weekend draws an audience of nearly 1,000 cultural, political, community and business leaders from Nashville and beyond. Each year, the celebration begins with a Patrons Party held at a lovely private home. Often called “the best book club in town,” the annual gathering provides an intimate setting for guests to mingle, network and spark riveting conversation. The following weekend hosts the Literary Award Gala at the beautiful downtown library. The black-tie affair begins with cocktails in Ingram Hall and is followed by dinner and remarks from the honoree in the Grand Reading Room.

Previous recipients include David Halberstam, David McCullough, John Updike, Ann Patchett, John Irving, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Billy Collins, John McPhee, Margaret Atwood, Robert K. Massie, Scott Turow, Jon Meacham and John Lewis.

Proceeds from the Literary Award’s Patrons Party and Gala benefit the Nashville Public Library Foundation.