Betty Jean Steinshouer has been off the Chautauqua circuit and on sabbatical since the spring of 2018, making exceptions only for very special occasions, such as the August 24-25 storytelling festival at the George Washington Carver Historic Site in Diamond, Missouri, and the Sinclair Lewis Society's Writing Festival on October 6 in Sauk Center, Minnesota - both as Willa Cather. Her first 2019 appearance will be as Marjory Stoneman Douglas at the Coral Springs Art Museum, a presentation designed especially for the middle school students in Coral Springs who attend the feeder schools for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, just a month before the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting in Parkland. "A labor of tenderness" is Betty Jean's description of her preparation for this event. The museum website announces it as "a celebration of community activism and Florida History." Call 954-340-5000 for reservations.
The first of the Chautauqua Companion books, Long Road from Red Cloud: Life Lessons from Willa Cather, will be released in January, followed by The Florida Journeys, tracing the travels in the Sunshine State of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rose Wilder Lane, Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Rachel Carson.
Betty Jean notes that she has been deeply moved by the early reviews of Long Road. "This is not the book I expected to write about Willa Cather," she says in the preface. She made a discovery about Cather, after many years of research, and it changed the book from some nice philosophical statements about life to a rather earth-shaking revelation about Cather's gender identity. "At this point in my life," Steinshouer said, "I was not looking to release a tsunami in Cather Studies, but I've come to see that it needed to be done."
2015 Florida Dates with Betty Jean Steinshouer
1 p.m. January 24 Freedom Public Library, 5870 SW 95th Street, Ocala On Hemingway: Three Views (Willa Cather, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Gertrude Stein)
7 p.m. February 18 Catherine Hickman Theater, Gulfport (sponsored by the Circle of Friends, Gulfport Public Library) Yankee Ladies in Florida (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas)
7 p.m. February 24 Venice Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall) 111 Firenze Street, Venice Marjory Stoneman Douglas & Florida's Ban on Convict Leasing
5:30 p.m. March 6 Useppa Island Historical Society (members and guests) A Florida History Chautauqua (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas)
6 p.m. March 10 The Villages Lifelong Learning College - Eisenhower Center ($18 nonresidents) Willa Cather Speaks
2 p.m. March 11 Leesburg Public Library 100 E. Main Street Leesburg On Hemingway: Three Views