Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kevin Corley  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Historical Fiction

Audience: Adult;


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Illinois Connection

Corley grew up in Shelbyville and currently resides in Springfield. He graduated with a BA from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and a MA from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kevin Corley is a retired history teacher and school administrator from central Illinois. As a teacher, he spent time talking to his students about the coal mines of central Illinois and the unionization of workers. Many of his students at the time were descendants of mining families. In 1988, he had the opportunity to do oral history interviews of over forty central Illinois residents who had experienced the tumultuous mining events of the 1930s.His novels focus on the Christian County coal mines in the early 1900s. ''Sixteen Tons'' covers the years 1898 to 1933, when the United Mines Workers Union was just emerging. ''Throw Out the Water'', covers the Christian County Coal Mine War from 1933 to 1937 in which there were dozens of bombings, gunfights, and unsolved murders. The war stemmed from the struggle between the Progressive Miners of America and the United Mines Workers Union.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Sixteen Tons: A Novel
ISBN: 0991163990

Hard Ball Press. 2014

HISTORY COMES ALIVE in Kevin Corley's epic novel about the lives of coal miners and their families during the early 20th century. With mine owners employing gun thugs and the National Guard to suppress the new union, miners and their families fight bloody battles to secure a living wage and safer working conditions. As deep as the men descended down into the coal mines, so deep goes the reader into the inspiring stories of the immigrant and American born men and women who fueled the industrial revolution with coal, the black gold.

Throw Out The Water
ISBN: 098624001X

Hard Ball Press. 2016

Coal mine wars. That's what they called the long, bloody conflict between rival unions that tore apart families and communities in Central Illinois during the 1930s. Hot-headed Vinnie Vacca sides with the newly-formed, radical Progressive Miners of America. His stubborn brother Bullo fights for the established United Mine Workers, while the coal mine bosses hire Chicago gun thugs from the Capone mob to spread death and fear across the landscape. Vinnie and Bullo’s father Antonio struggles to make peace within the family--and within the community--as the unending bombings and gunfights kill too many too young, including Antonio’s devoted wife, Angeline. This bloody story is based on actual events that occurred throughout Illinois from 1933 to 1937.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)