March 27, 2018

Maryann McFadden will discuss her new book about the 1886 Tillie Smith murder.

Hackettstown, N.J., April 2, 2018—Centenary University concludes its Spring Authors Series on Tuesday, April 24, with a discussion and book signing featuring Maryann McFadden, Hackettstown resident and author of The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, a new historical novel based on the 1886 murder of Tillie Smith at Centenary Collegiate Institute, a precursor to Centenary University. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Front Parlours of the Edward W. Seay Administration Building.

The murder of Smith, a kitchen maid at Centenary, captivated news readers across the nation, fueling a public outcry that led authorities to arrest and convict a maintenance man at the institute for the crime. Today, the gruesome murder has become woven into Hackettstown lore. A monument in her memory stands in Union Cemetery and “Tillie Walks” sponsored by Centenary Stage Company retrace Smith’s steps on the fateful night of her murder.

McFadden is the author of three books—The Richest Season, So Happy Together and The Book Lover—all of which were designated Indie Next Picks and called must-reads by the American Bookseller’s Association. Her fourth book, The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, will be released in May.

For more information about the event, contact Elizabeth Freeman,, (908) 852-1400, ext. 2253.

Sponsored by Centenary University’s English and Foreign Languages Department, the Spring Authors Series was funded in part through a grant from the Warren County Cultural & Heritage Commission. The annual series celebrates and inspires creative expression by inviting working writers to campus to interact with students and community members.


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.


Contact:  Kristen Volkland
(201) 960-3102

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