Photo by Steve Ladner,

Photo by Steve Ladner,

Janet Benton began writing early and has worked hard to give books a central place in her life. She grew up in a small town in Connecticut and skipped eighth grade to travel the world with her working-artist mother. She holds an M.F.A. in English/fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a B. A. in religious studies from Oberlin College. After working at magazines, newspapers, and publishers, running an editorial business, and teaching writing at four universities and privately, she began The Word Studio ( to focus on working with writers. Click here to read an interview with her in Publisher's Weekly, March 2017, called "Mothers from the Past: PW Talks with Janet Benton." Feel free to get in touch via the Contact tab on this site. She'll be pleased to answer just about any question; for a short list that might get your thinking started, see below. 


  • ESSAY, "The Power of a Diary," May 16, 2017, in Read Her Like an Open Book. 
  • ESSAY on how sensory data makes readers keep reading, May 18, 2017, in Signature: Making Well-Read Sense of the World.
  • ESSAY, "In storytelling, finding joy and understanding," Sunday Commentary section, March 19, 2017, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  • ESSAY, "A Feminist's Daughter Finds Love in the Kitchen," October 6, 2013.  Read in the New York Times.
  • ESSAY, "In the Name of Fairness, Don't Erase Women's History," lead piece in Sunday Commentary sectionMarch 20, 2016. Read in the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

  • DOCUMENTARY, script co-writer for "Promise for a Better City (1944-1964)."  Episode 3 in the series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.  Aired on 6ABC. Click title to watch.  
  • DOCUMENTARY, script editor and team member for "Fever: 1793." Episode 2 in the series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.  Aired on 6ABCWinner of three Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards. Click title to watch.


  • What inspired you to start writing this novel?
  •  Why did you choose to make Lilli a Quaker?
  • Why is the novel in the form of a diary, and what does keeping a diary do for Lilli?
  • What are some interesting bits of Philadelphia history that you learned while researching? 
  • Are there aspects of your own background that inform the novel?