About Us

    The Rose O’Neill Literary House helps the students of Washington College to see themselves as part of a global community of writers: serious, professional, inquisitive, and committed to the craft of writing. In addition, we create opportunities to celebrate the articulate word nationally and internationally, and we support writers through our Reading Series, our Literary House Press, our literary collaborations (both local and national), and through our robust internship program which pairs advanced students with writers and literary organizations.

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    The Rose O'Neill Literary House celebrated 50 years of literary houses at Washington College in 2022-23 with a mix of virtual and in-person events.

    Applying or enrolling here at WC? Visit us at the Lit House!
    Tours are available Monday through Friday during two set times: 11:45-12:15 and 3:15-3:45. Contact Admissions or just drop in and meet our fabulous and knowledgeable student guides.

    Explore the Rose O'Neill Literary House!

    Our Mission

    The Literary House brings together students, faculty, alumni, and local community members from across disciplines. It is a cultural center which hosts programs, classes, and student-run clubs and activities. We are dedicated to promoting the articulated word. Our annual events provide access to a wide variety of texts, including fiction, poetry, journalism, creative nonfiction, scholarly prose, songwriting, playwriting, and hybrid forms. Our letterpress studio and Literary House Press introduce participants to both new and old technologies.

    Further reading: An Introduction for New Faculty

    Our History

    The Lit House turns 50 years old in 2022! That's a half-century of launching literary lives and building a welcoming, robust literary community for our students and Chestertown friends!  

    The famous poster collection that adorns our walls reads like the best of literary graffiti: Toni Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Allen Ginsberg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Carolyn Forché, Grace Paley, and Claudia Rankine were here. Writers who have visited the Lit House have won Pulitzers, National Book Awards, and Nobel Prizes in Literature.

    The Lit House was founded in 1970.“Richmond House,” as it was then known, remained in its original structure until 1982.  For a brief time, writing students called Dorchester their Lit House. Then, in 1985, the Bell House across campus was acquired thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Betty Brown Casey ’47 and her husband Eugene B. Casey. The House was renamed in honor of Eugene Casey’s mother, Rose O’Neill Casey.  

    You can read more about our history, and our founding director, Bob Day, here (with thanks to Jim Dissette for putting these essays together).


    If you’re interested in supporting the work we do here at The Rose O’Neill Literary House, please contact Lit House Director James Allen Hall.

    Current fundraising initiatives include our internship program, “The Light of Day,” which has connected students with literary organizations such as Pen Parentis, Copper Canyon Press, NPR, and Book TV, as well as with professional authors for whom they serve as research assistants.

    Another opportunity for giving is our reading series, which the Washington Post has called “the Carnegie Hall of readings.” What makes us special is that our authors meet with students to discuss their writing. Imagine having met with Toni Morrison or recent Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown about your writing!

    We also publish a national literary journal, Cherry Tree, which features outstanding literary work by established and emerging authors, and which provides student learning opportunities in editing, marketing, design, and publishing.

    And each year we run the Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference, which showcases Washington College’s vibrant literary community for high-school age writers. If you'd like to sponsor a scholarship or fund books for our young writers, email Conference Director Roy Kesey or make a donation and specify it for the "Cherry Tree Young Writers' Conference." 

    Donate to the Lit House and help us to inspire the next generation of poets, journalists, playwrights, and storytellers!


    Come See Us:

    We're open Monday-Friday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. At times, we can stay open a bit later, thanks to help from volunteers and student interns.

    Connect with Us:

    Join our Rose O’Neill Literary House Facebook Group and follow us on Twitter @WCLiteraryHouse to interact about upcoming events and opportunities at The Rose O’Neill Literary House.

    The Literary House Press and Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College have their own separate Facebook pages. You can also follow Cherry Tree on Twitter and Instagram at @CherryTreeLit. Visit our Literary House Press online store for subscriptions, books, broadsides, and swag.

    Contact Us:

    For more information about the Lit House and its programs, please email [email protected].

    Send us things:

    The Rose O’Neill Literary House 
    Washington College 
    300 Washington Avenue 
    Chestertown, Maryland 21620