Marilynne Robinson

delivers the 2016 Noble Lecture

"The Divine"


April 4, 2016
7:00 PM
(Doors at 6:15)


Memorial Church
1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

American novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson will deliver the 2016 Noble Lecture at Harvard University, with an introduction by Matthew Potts, Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School. The title of her talk will be "The Divine."

Co-sponsored by the Memorial Church and Harvard Book Store, a reception and book signing will immediately follow the lecture in the Memorial Room; books will also be available for purchase.

This event is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6:15pm, and seating is first-come, first-served.

The William Belden Noble Lectures were established in 1898 by Nannie Yulee Noble in memory of her husband, a divinity student who died while preparing for the ministry.

Praise for Marilynne Robinson

“Robinson is that rare essayist whose sentences make you sit up and pay attention . . . The greatest pleasures of this book are its provocations, which are inseparable from its prose . . . Her essays are psalms to an indivisible America.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Illuminating . . . The best companion of all to Robinson’s novels might be her own essays.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A glimmering, provocative collection of essays, each a rhetorically brilliant, deeply felt exploration of education, culture, and politics . . . beautifully intelligent.” —The Boston Globe

“Written in beautiful, precise language, [Lila] glows like a banked fire that provides steady illumination. Lila should prompt first-time Robinson readers to track down her other works.” —Martha Woodall, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Marilynne Robinson tracks the movements of grace as if it were a wild animal, appearing for fleeting intervals and then disappearing past the range of vision, emerging again where we least expect to find it . . . Robinson's determination to shed light on . . . complexities--the solitude that endures inside intimacy, the sorrow that persists beside joy--marks her as one of those rare writers genuinely committed to contradiction as an abiding state of consciousness. Her characters surprise us with the depth and ceaseless wrinkling of their feelings.” —Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic

Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for “her grace and intelligence in writing.” She is the author of Lila, a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Robinson’s nonfiction books include The Givenness of ThingsWhen I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country, which was nominated for a National Book Award.  She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Iowa City.

Photo Credit: Alec Soth

Memorial Church
1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge MA 02138

Memorial Church is located in the center of Harvard Yard, across from Widener Library.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.


Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

Signing Guidelines

This event will conclude with a book signing, presented by Harvard Book Store.

An assortment of titles by Marilynne Robinson will be available for purchase at the event. All these books will have been pre-signed by the author, and during the signing you may have these books personalized, or have books from home signed.

Due to time constraints, the signing will be limited to two books per person. Those with more copies can choose to wait for the end of the line, and requests to have any additional books signed will be accommodated if time permits.

Guidelines are subject to change based on available time and size of the signing line.

General Info
For further inquiries regarding this event contact Elizabeth Montgomery at or 617-495-5508. For inquiries regarding book sales or the book signing, please contact

Media Inquiries

Accessibility Inquiries

Support Your Local Indie Bookstore

Here are a few of the ways you can support your bookstore during challenging and uncertain times.

Learn More »

Online Book Orders in April

Your online book orders will temporarily be fulfilled by our third-party partners at Bookshop at this time. #SupportHarvardBookStore

Learn More »

Gift Cards

Support Harvard Book Store's tomorrow. Buy a gift card today. Redeemable in the store and on, and they never expire.

Learn More »