Mar 292011
Authors: Brittany Lancaster

New York Times best-selling author Susan Vreeland will be speaking to the Fort Collins community tonight at the Hilton at 7. Vreeland will be talking about her recent novel released in January, “Clara and Mr. Tiffany.”

Her work focuses on historical art and artists and helps their stories go beyond the pages of an art history book. Doors to the event open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Vreeland’s recent historical novel takes readers back to New York City at the turn of the 19th century just before the Roaring Twenties. The son of the Tiffany and Company owner, Louis Comfort Tiffany, falsely accredited the stained glass Tiffany lamps as his own artistic property.

The true artisan and craftswoman was Clara Driscoll, whom Tiffany kept out of the public eye as to uphold his forged reputation. For 100 years it was assumed that Tiffany had designed the lamps. Upon the discovery of two collections of letters the truth was uncovered that Clara designed them.

Vreeland said she loves to travel and could no sooner identify her favorite travel spot than her favorite book. She says she gets much of her inspiration from the places she has been and has journeyed to each setting where her books take place.

“I often go to New York with an agent to a museum or gallery. We went to a metropolitan museum and saw a Tiffany exhibit. I had never seen it up close,” Vreeland said. “Her husband told us he read a review of another exhibit: ‘A new light on Tiffany, Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany girls.’ That’s how I learned of Clara.”

According to Susan Vreeland’s autobiography, she taught 30 years of high school English as well as seven years of ceramics before resigning in 2000. She began writing in 1980 focusing on art and travel for newspapers and magazines.

In 1999 she wrote her first and shortest novel, “Girl in Hyacinth Blue,” which lead her to a book tour after leaving teaching. Her novels have been translated into 25 languages, distributing her work to a mass audience.

Vreeland also spoke of the tremendous amount of research that goes into her historical novels.

“I read about 80-120 books in preparing for writing one. I research not just the artist but their artistic output, the time, place and social culture,” Vreeland said. “Specifically with Clara for example I read about the operas from that time because she liked to go to the operas.”

Staff writer Brittany Lancaster can be reached at

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