Making it in Minnesota

University of Notre Dame Main Building

In 1963 John Bellairs left his comfort zones in Indiana AND Illinois to begin a new chapter of his life in Minnesota. Taking up residence in the small community of Winona, Bellairs began what would become a brief stint of teaching English at the now-defunct College of Saint Teresa.

John's first fulltime experience in the classroom included teaching elementary English composition and readings in authors such as Dante and Shakespeare – and even some Ray Bradbury for grins. Bellairs found time for some writing, too, though some of his earliest examples were academic-driven examinations of poetry and prose. His creative writing, however, honed in on his experiences in the church and from the Catholic girl's school where he taught. Here Bellairs would commit to paper the adventures of a saint he first told friends about back in Chicago. The saint was known as Fidgeta and she would go on to become the launching pad in Bellairs's career.

In between the teaching, the writing, the conferences, and everything else, Bellairs found time to take up some acting. Because Saint Teresa's was an all-female school, faculty members often pitched in to complete casts in various stage productions. Over the course of two years, Bellairs found time to participate in four different roles.

By 1965, Bellairs was ready to return to Chicago to resume work on his doctoral studies, something small-town Minnesota was unable to provide. While his years in the land of the lakes was short, in 1978 he would set The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, the first book in the Anthony Monday series, in Hoosac, a fictional but geographic-cousin to Winona.