Chatham News

Newly dedicated Melanie and Fred R. Brown Special Collection of Literary Fiction adds nearly 3,300 volumes to Jennie King Mellon Library

By: Paul Kovach, Vice President for Public and Community Relations
April 12, 2010

PITTSBURGH (April 12, 2010) … Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library recently expanded by over 3,000 works of literature at one fell swoop thanks to the generosity of book collectors Melanie and Fred R. Brown. This month the University dedicated The Melanie and Fred R. Brown Special Collection of Literary Fiction consisting of 3,262 books, over 98 percent of which are first printings of first editions or advance reading copies. Housed in a new resource room on the Library’s first floor, the Collection will be utilized by faculty and students in the University’s nationally-recognized MFA in Creative Writing program and its other undergraduate and graduate writing programs. An additional gift of 300 books will be displayed at Lindsay House, home of the undergraduate and graduate literature and writing faculty.

“A once-in-a-lifetime gift, this collection will enhance our MFA program in many ways, and we are so grateful to the Browns for their generosity,” noted Sheryl St. Germain, MFA program director and professor. “We are looking forward to reading, studying and enjoying the collection with our students.”

Avid readers, the Browns began collecting contemporary American and international literary fiction and mysteries in the early 1980s. The Bethel Park, Pa. couple assembled the Collection through local bookstores and while attending various literary and reading events across the U.S. More than half of the books in the Collection have been signed by their respective authors and all have been maintained in “As New” condition. Signed books by Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, William Styron, Salman Rushdie, among many, many others are included.

“We are so pleased that our book collection has found such a lovely home at Chatham,” Mrs. Brown said. “Just as important for us is that the books will continue to be read and enjoyed, and will be used to educate future generations of writers.”

Mr. Brown added, “Melanie and I will continue to expand the Collection through a series of annual additions containing the most recent award winners, along with other works of contemporary fiction.”

The Melanie and Fred R. Brown Collection is incredibly eclectic and represents the works of award-winning authors. Melanie has a particular interest in mysteries, including many popular authors who publish series with continuing characters and so the Collection includes complete sets of signed first editions by Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Robert B. Parker, Walter Moseley, and Michael Connelly. Fred’s foremost interest is award-winning literary fiction, and his collection includes near-complete sets of fifty-five American and international literary awards including the Booker Prize, Critics Circle Award, Drue Heinz Literature Prize, National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction.

The Browns first established their relationship with Chatham by funding the Melanie Brown Lecturer in 2008. Each year the endowed fund supports a two-day campus visit by an established author whose writing is guided by a strong sense of place. Past Melanie Brown Lecturers have been Michael Byers, Ann Pancake, and Debra Marquart.

About the MFA in Creative Writing
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing allows students to focus on tracks in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and writing for children, and encourages them to explore two tracks simultaneously. Students take innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India and Germany. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five Innovative/Unique Programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings, while in 2009 The Writer named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. Chatham University also offers an undergraduate BFA in Creative Writing, an online Master of Professional Writing, and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information visit

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Every Chatham student – women in Chatham’s historic women’s residential college, and men and women in Chatham’s graduate programs – receives a highly individualized, experiential educational experience that is informed by Chatham’s strong institutional commitment to globalism, the environment and citizen leadership. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with Chatham Eastside and the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit