[PAST EVENT] Richmond Theater Fire Book Talk: Rachel Beanland & Meredith Baker M.A. '07

September 28, 2023
6pm - 8pm
Swem Library, Special Collections Research Center
400 Landrum Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Free food
  • Open to the public
Rachel Beanland & Meredith Henne Baker

On the night of December 26, 1811, more than 600 Richmond residents, including many of the city’s wealthy elites and prominent politicians, crowded into the Richmond Theater to watch two plays. Before the night ended, the city would watch as the brick theater burned to the ground, killing more than 70 people, including the newly elected governor of Virginia. At the time, it was the deadliest urban disaster in American history.

Now, two centuries later, this tragic event has been revisited by two Virginia authors in their books, The House is on Fire by Rachel Beanland and The Richmond Theater Fire: Early America’s First Great Disaster by Meredith Baker M.A. '07. They will discuss their research and writing process at the Swem Library on September 28, 6pm.

Rachel Beanland is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and earned her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives with her husband and three children in Richmond, VA. Meredith Baker conducted her research on the Richmond Theater fire in the archives at Swem Library. She earned her master’s degree in American history from William & Mary in 2007. She lives in Richmond, VA.

A reception and book signing will follow the talk, and the library’s Special Collections Research Center will have archival materials related to the fire on display. The W&M Bookstore will be on-site selling copies of the books. Free and open to all!

Please note that guests may park in the visitor parking spots in our back lot or the faculty/staff lot behind us. We have opened up our back entrance due to the ongoing construction. There is a call button and our team will buzz you inside.


[[jgood, Joanna Good]]