Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Robert Hellenga  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1941 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

-- Website --
-- Robert Hellenga on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Robert Hellenga lives in Galesburg, Illinois and teaches at Knox College.

Biographical and Professional Information

Hellenga was educated at the University of Michigan and Princeton University. He has been a professor of English literature at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, since 1968. He started writing fiction at Knox and published his first story in 1973 and his first novel (after 39 rejections) in 1994.

Published Works

  • The Sixteen Pleasures, Sceptre, 1995
  • The Fall of the Sparrow, Scribner, 1998
  • Blues Lessons: A Novel, Scribner, 2002
  • Philosophy Made Simple: A Novel, Little, Brown and Company, 2006
  • The Italian Lover, Little, Brown and Company, 2007
  • Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel, Bloomsbury, 2011
  • The Confessions of Frances Godwin, Bloomsbury, 2014

Selected Titles At Your Library

Sixteen pleasures /
ISBN: 0340618191. OCLC Number:

Sceptre,. . 1995.

The fall of a sparrow.
ISBN: 0140277048. OCLC Number:

Penguin,. London :. 2000.

Blues lessons :
ISBN: 0743225465. OCLC Number:

Scribner,. New York :. ©2002.

"Growing up on his family's orchards in Appleton, Michigan, in the 1950s, Martin Dijksterhuis finds everything he needs in his extended family and in the land itself - in the reassuring routines of growing and harvesting, spraying and pruning. Although his mother wants him to get out of Appleton, which she finds impossibly provincial, and attend a great university - the University of Chicago, her alma mater - he has no desire to leave."

Philosophy made simple :
ISBN: 0316058262. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. New York :. 2006.

Widower Rudy Harrington, a father of three grown daughters, leaves his Chicago home for a new life at an avocado grove in Texas, where he takes up philosophy, presides over his daughter's Hindu wedding, and falls for his son-in-law's mother.

The Italian lover :
ISBN: 0316117633. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. New York :. 2007.

Twenty-five years after stumbling upon a priceless work of Renaissance erotica in Florence, a discovery that led her into a misguided love affair, Margot Harrington joins forces with her lover, Woody, to write a screenplay based on her experiences.

Snakewoman of Little Egypt :
ISBN: 1608193225. OCLC Number:

. .

A middle-aged anthropology professor contemplating his future becomes romantically involved with a woman released from jail after shooting her husband, the pastor of a snake-handling church.

The confessions of Frances Godwin :
ISBN: 1620405490. OCLC Number:

. .

"The Confessions of Frances Godwin is the fictional memoir of a retired high school Latin teacher looking back on a life of trying to do her best amidst transgressions--starting with her affair with Paul, whom she later marries. Now that Paul is dead and she's retired, Frances Godwin thinks her story is over--but of course the rest of her life is full of surprises, including the truly shocking turn of events that occurs when she takes matters into her own hands after her daughter Stella's husband grows increasingly abusive. And though she is not a particularly pious person, in the aftermath of her actions, God begins speaking to her. Theirs is a deliciously antagonistic relationship that will compel both believers and nonbelievers alike. From a small town in the Midwest to the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, The Confessions of Frances Godwin touches on the great questions of human existence: Is there something "out there" that takes an interest in us? Or is the universe ultimately indifferent?"--


Society of Midland Author`s Award for Fiction in 1995. Illinois Art`s Council and PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.


was included in The Washington Post list of best books of 2010 and the Kirkus Reviews list of top 25 novels of 2010.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact Information Henry Dunow 425 Madison Avenue New York, New York 10017