Mar 302011
Authors: Brittany Lancaster

Members of the Fort Collins community came to the Hilton last night for a speech by New York Times best-selling author, Susan Vreeland, as part of the first of an author series presented by Friends of the CSU Libraries and the Poudre River Friends of the Library.

Andrea Lapsley, director of Development University Libraries at CSU, said the CSU Libraries have a long history of sponsoring author events for the campus and community.

“We believe programming and cultural educational opportunities to be a strong part of our mission … Ms. Vreeland is a well-known historical fiction writer who does extensive research for each of her books,” Lapsley said.

With the patience and passion learned from her 30-year teaching career, Vreeland guided her audience through the historical origins of her new book, “Clara and Mr. Tiffany.”

Alongside a photograph slideshow of Tiffany lamps, Vreeland told the story of her discovery of Clara. Vreeland described her recent protagonist as a bold, freethinking and curious person who worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany as a talented and unrecognized artist, designing and creating the Tiffany lamps, which her employer took credit for.

Along with a new exhibit, “A new light on Tiffany, Clara and the Tiffany girls” Vreeland is revealed the truth about the creation of the Tiffany lamps and the hidden genius that was Clara Driscoll.

Vreeland’s work tends to highlight strong and empowering women and quotes Susan B. Anthony in saying, “I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Susan said the women before this generation have paved the way so that women today can have a broader opportunity in life to really engage.

“Pioneering women in the arts and in the industry have done a lot for women today. These are our heroines, and they ought to be recognized,” Vreeland said.

Vreeland says her first encounter with art and literature came when she was a young girl reading “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

“I was a little kid when I noticed a connection between the word and the image on a page,” Vreeland said.

Growing up in Calif., Vreeland graduated from San Diego University and later went on to win the highest honor of the San Diego books awards, the Theodor Geisel Award. In addition, three of her books have been New York Times best sellers.

Allison Thompson, who attended the event, said she has a particular interest in art and came to the event to see how much of her book was actually historic.

“The research and work that goes into Susan’s books is truly amazing, the way she marries her different passions as well as the character and their particular study,” Thompson said. “ It takes a very creative person to do that and how she upholds the integrity of her characters and individuals of interest really says a lot about her … she’s sure a character herself.”

Vreeland is in the process of writing another novel and will be holding a contest for a chance to win a hardcover copy of any of her books. But the contest information cannot be released until she receives 200 members on her Facebook page.

“You don’t have to read just what your book club tells you, I know a woman in Dallas who writes the list of books for over 400 book clubs, and they read what she tells them,” Vreeland says. “ All of you in Fort Collins, I think you have more individuality than that.”

Staff writer Brittany Lancaster can be reached at

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