Robert Frost (center), whose visit inspired Jean Louise Stellfox to establish the Stellfox Prize, poses on the steps of Old West with Dickinson students in 1959.
The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program brings major literary figures to campus for an inter-arts residency that may include readings, discussions, performances, a public lecture and an award ceremony. Throughout a week on campus, each honoree also meets informally with students and professors, sharing meals and offering advice and insight to aspiring writers.
The program is named in honor of the parents of esteemed English teacher Jean Louise Stellfox, a native of Shamokin, Pa. Jean was in her third year at Dickinson in 1959 when she met Robert Frost during the poet's visit to campus. She was inspired by that experience, and made it her life’s work to instill a similar passion for literature in others. She went on to become an exacting and effective literature teacher with a long and notable career.
Jean left Dickinson most of her $1.5 million estate to carry on her lifelong mission. The Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program was formed to fulfill that wish after her death in 2003.
While Stellfox recipients visit campus for a week in the spring, their influence weaves through the greater college community throughout the academic year. In the months leading up to the residency, students prepare by studying the current recipient's works. Students also have a chance to bring what they've learned to the campus and surrounding community through readings, concerts and/or exhibitions inspired or informed by the Stellfox recipient's literary contributions. Visiting scholars and musical, dramatic or visual artists may also present related public events.