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Author of the ‘American Phoenix’ to read at Meekins Library in Williamsburg

— Whether you are an avid history buff or just have an affinity for stories that weave together tales of disaster, perseverance and success, you likely will not want to miss author Sarah Skinner Kilborne as she discusses her new book at Meekins Library this Sunday.

Kilborne, the great-great-granddaughter of 19th-century industrialist William Skinner, will present selections from “American Phoenix; The Remarkable Story of William Skinner, a Man who Turned Disaster into Destiny.”

Released in October, Kilborne’s book follows the rags-to-riches story of a poor English immigrant, whose skill and tenacity eventually made him one of the leading silk manufacturers in the country.

Skinner’s rise to fame began in Williamsburg, where his silk mill enterprise first thrived, giving rise to the village of Skinnerville. His story turned tragic, however, when, in 1874, a catastrophic flood on the east branch of the Mill River wiped out the village as well as parts of Williamsburg, Haydenville and Leeds.

Kilborne documents Skinner’s struggle to rebuild his business and maintain his family in the wake of the disaster.

Williamsburg Historical Commissioner Ralmon Black calls the book a “gripping narrative” and says it is both “inspiring and unforgettable.” Kirkus Reviews calls it “A compelling, comprehensive biography of a man who contributed much to American manufacturing — perfect for readers who like to root for the underdog.” An array of photographs will accompany Kilborne’s readings.

The event is from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Books will be available for purchase and signing and refreshments will be served.

For additional information, contact Lisa Wenner at Meekins Library at 268-7472 or libdir2@hotmail.com.

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