Signature Events

Since 1835, The Mercantile Library has continuously sought out dynamic lecturers and speakers, experts on a wide array of subjects—politics, art, literature, science, religion and more. William Makepeace Thackeray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rabbi Isaac Wise, John Updike, David Halberstam, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Robert Caro, David Brooks, Michelle Alexander, Julia Child, Sandra Cisneros, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Claudia Rankine are just some of the lecturers hosted by the Mercantile. In 2017 we hosted Greg Hand, Josh Ritter, Nathan Hill, Ken Adelman, Amanda Dameron, Wesley Lowery, Chuck Klosterman, and R.T. Rybak.

The Library’s Signature Events are annual lectures, each around a recurring theme. Free admission to Signature Events for Mercantile Library members is made possible by The George and Margaret McLane Foundation with additional support from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Annual Meeting & Mercantile History Lecture. The Mercantile History Lecture, delivered at the Annual Meeting, highlights an aspect of local and regional history. January 16, Molly Wellmann: Cincinnati Through the Whiskey Glass. For more information, visit HERE

Words and Music. Our newest Signature Lecture, explores the process of songwriting and its parallels to literature. The Words and Music Inaugural Lecturer was Josh Ritter, singer-songwriter and novelist. The 2018 Words and Music Lecturer is Steve Earle, March 14

The 1835 Lecture. This history-focused lecture sheds light on a historic person or event from the period of the Library’s founding in 1835 to the present. it is held on or around the anniversary of the Mercantile Library, April 18, 1835. We welcome author Susan Orlean April 19.

Hearth & Home: Typically held late spring, this lecture and subsequent series take advantage of the bestselling authors and personalities who write about the art of living. Topics include food and wine, interior design, and landscape architecture. Journalist and food writer Melissa Clark is here May 10.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Lecture & Award.  Lecture by award-recipient whose work best exemplifies “writing to change the world”. The Stowe Lecture is in June of each year, as close as possible to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s birthdate, June 14. Harriet Beecher Stowe spoke at the Library in 1873. The 2018 recipient is Colson Whitehead, June 13

Science and Technology. The Library has a long history of hosting scientists, explorers, and innovators to deliver lectures. This lecture focuses on those personalities past and present. Journalist and historian Liza Mundy is here July 11.

The 2035 Lecture.  With a nod to forward-thinking young business leaders who founded the Mercantile Library, this annual late summer lecture looks at the future of business, design, technologies, and entrepreneurialism and the ways those will shape the global economy. Cincinnati native Jerald Cooper delivers this lecture August 23.

Pyle Urban Lecture. Inaugurated in 2014 to honor former Library Director Albert Pyle’s two decades of service to the library, this lecture features urban thinkers speaking on issues important to the vitality of cities and beyond. Critic, historian, and journalist Luc Sante is the 2018 lecturer, September 13.

The Modern Novel Lecture invites novelists who are writing at the top of their form and whose work in literary fiction frequently becomes a part of popular culture. Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan is here October 17.