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NIU alum Kenneth Womack publishes Beatles encyclopedia

Northern Illinois University alumnus Kenneth Womack makes writing seem easy, considering he has more than 25 books to his credit as an author and editor.

After a year of touring the country to share stories about the Beatles, Womack has just released “The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the group’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The book addresses the lives and works of the Beatles.

From Abbey Road to Zapple Records, the two-volume encyclopedia is a comprehensive study of the band’s musical fusion and cultural impact. It also focuses on the wide array of people and places associated with the band’s achievements.

Another Beatles book that Womack has written is “Long and Winding Roads,” which maps the group’s development, and he has edited two Beatles books.

Born two years after the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Womack is regarded as an expert on the band’s history. During his Beatlemania tour across the U.S., he talked about the foursome’s musical development from the early years until their breakup in 1969.

As a teacher and writer, he has received many awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2009.

For the 2013-2014 academic year, Womack was named Penn State University’s laureate. He teaches English and integrative arts and serves as senior associate dean for academic affairs at Penn State’s Altoona campus.

As a laureate, he is responsible for one academic year to bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic and human perspective and awareness to diverse audiences. Living up to that responsibility, he has helped organize an international Beatles celebration, which occurred earlier this month at the Altoona campus.

“The Restaurant at the End of the World” (2012) earned him a gold medal for best regional fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. It is based on the tragic lives of 28 real-life characters who worked in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.

“John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel” (2010, NIU Press) won bronze for literary fiction from ForeWord Reviews. This book is about the man that was supposed to be Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing.

“I believe that you have to be relentless to pursue writing as a vocation,” Womack said in a recent interview. “I think that under any circumstances – the best of circumstances – writers will their characters and storyline into being. It is a powerful but inherently difficult act.”

In addition to studying the Russian language and literature at the Moscow Institute of Communications, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in English from NIU.

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