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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events
Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events


Fuller Award for Harriette Gillem Robinet

Tuesday, March 14, 2023
6-8 p.m.

Dominican University Performing Arts Center
7900 West Division Street
River Forest, IL 60305
Event and registration are free, but registration is required.

Artwork by Carlie Merola

Harriette Gillem Robinet, the acclaimed author of 11 historical novels for young adults, received the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame's Fuller Award at a ceremony on Tuesday, March 14. The ceremony took place at Dominican University's Blake Recital Hall; a reception with appetizers and drinks followed. Speakers included Linda Robinet, Nora Brooks Blakely, Athena Williams, Frank Lipo, Glennette Tilley Turner, and Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert. In addition, Timothy Rey and several Beye Elementary School students read two very short stage adaptations based on the author's work. The event was free and open to the public.

Robinet was the 14th recipient of CLHOF's highest honor for living writers. Over the past three decades, she earned recognition from such prestigious organizations as the Friends of American Writers and Midland Authors. She won a Carl Sandburg Award and a Scott O'Dell Award, and been a finalist for an Edgar Award, a Willam Allen White Award, a Texas Bluebonnet Award, and a Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award. Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues was recognized as Jane Addams Award Honor book in 2001.

Born in Washington D.C., Robinet spent her childhood summers in Arlington, Virginia, where her mother's father had been a slave under General Robert E. Lee. She attended the College of New Rochelle in New York and received graduate degrees in microbiology from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Robinet has long been a Chicago-area resident; in fact, she and her husband Mac have lived in the same Oak Park house since 1965. The couple, newlyweds, then, were among the first integrators to Oak Park. As part of the movement to expose the real estate industry’s racially-motivated practices, the Robinets joined the North Shore Project, which documented the unequal treatment of Black couples and white couples. Last year, the Robinet family was honored by the Historical Society of Oak Park-River Forest with its annual Heart of Our Villages Award.

Robinet's novels explore various themes related to social justice, often using historically significant moments as a springboard. Chicago appears as a primary setting in several books, notably Children of the Fire and Missing From Haymarket Square. In addition, Ride the Red Cycle fictionalizes aspects of Gillem's experience as a mother raising a handicapped child.

In addition to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and Dominican University, the Oak Park River Forest Museum, Oak Park Regional Housing Center, American Writers Museum, Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, Housing Forward, and The Happy Apple Pie Shop helped present this honor. Contributing partners included River Forest Public Library, Oak Park Public Library, Sisters in Crime Chicagoland, and Mystery Writers of America.

Read our blog interview with Harriette's daughter, Linda Robinet.

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Presenters and family for the ceremony included (from top row left): Frank Lipo, Athena Williams, Timothy David Rey, Nora Blakely, Tsehaye Hébert. Also (from bottom row left): Mac Robinet, Linda Robinet, Harriette Gillem Robinet, Glennette Tilley Turner.
Nora Brooks Blakely takes in the presentations. (Photo by Don Seeley).
CLHOF Intern and DePaul English major Anna Hyslop introduces a staged reading. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Dominican University graphic designer Carlie Merola created the event poster. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Beye Elementary School student actress Madison Strong gets into her part. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Glennette Tilley Turner enjoys the tributes to her old friend and fellow author. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Frank Lipo listens intently during the ceremony. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Athena Williams signs commemorative programs on the way into the auditorium. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Linda Robinet delivers the award statue to her mom as the crowd shows their appreciation. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Donald G. Evans facilitates the evening's program. (Photo by Don Seeley).
CLHOF President Amy Danzer, board member Randy Albers, and Rachel Swearingen and husband John Balbach enjoy the reception. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Nora Brooks Blakely chats with Anna Hyslop and her mom. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Jeff Waggoner designed the commemorative program; Ron Swanson designed the statue. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Nora Brooks Blakely and Glennette Tilley Turner recap the evening's program. (Photo by Don Seeley).
Harriette catches up with her old friend Barbara Boril. (Photo by Don Seeley).
McLouis Robinet welcomes the extended family. (Photo by Don Seeley).

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