BOZEMAN – Montana State University English professor Gretchen Minton’s book about Montanans’ enduring love for William Shakespeare has won a 2021 High Plains Book Award.

 Minton’s “Shakespeare in Montana: Big Sky Country’s Love Affair with the World’s Most Famous Writer” won the Big Sky Award in the annual contest founded by the Billings Public Library Board. The award recognizes regional literary works from seven states and three Canadian provinces that examine and reflect life on the High Plains.

MSU English professor Gretchen Minton has won the High Plains Book Award for “Shakespeare in Montana: Big Sky Country’s Love Affair with the World’s Most Famous Writer.” Minton and her family traveled throughout Montana researching the importance of Shakespeare to early settlers, including a site in Nevada City that included an early Virginia City schoolhouse. This is the second major award for the book this year. Photo supplied by Doig Center.

 “Anyone interested in Shakespeare will love this book. Those interested in Montana history will love it too, and those interested in both should drop everything to read it,” said a review published in the Billings Gazette cited by the award.

 This is the second award this year for Minton’s book, which was published in 2020 by University of New Mexico Press. In February, the book was named the 2020 Montana Book of the Year, an annual contest founded by the Friends of the Missoula Public Library.

 Minton and her family spent years traveling to every corner of Montana to trace the Big Sky Country’s two-century love affair with William Shakespeare. Minton, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Letters and Science, is also the university’s Shakespeare expert.

 “Shakespeare in Montana” is Minton’s sixth book. The project initially began with her husband’s reading about mountain man Jim Bridger, who was illiterate and routinely hired someone to read Shakespeare to him by the campfire light. Additionally, she was also inspired by her work as the dramaturg, or literary adviser, with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, a theater troupe based at MSU that travels thousands of miles each summer with a portable stage taking Shakespeare’s plays to scores of small communities in Montana and surrounding states.

- By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service -