Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Cynthia Clampitt  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;


-- Website --
-- Cynthia Clampitt on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Clampitt makes her home in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illlinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Cynthia Clampitt is an award-winning writer and popular speaker, focusing primarily on topics related to food, travel, history, and geography. In addition to being an author and having published more than 500 articles, she has also written for every major educational publisher in the U.S., including the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and National Geographic Learning. For the 2013-2014 season, she was also a “Road Scholar” for the Illinois Humanities Council.Cynthia contributed major articles to the ''Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia'' and ''World Encyclopedia of Street Food'', as well as shorter articles to the ''Encyclopedia of Chicago Food and Drink''. Her book, ''Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland'', is being published by the University of Illinois Press (Feb. 2015), and she is under contract with the University of Iowa for another food history, this one on pigs and pork (the perfect companion to all that corn). Cynthia is a member of the Society of Women Geographers, Culinary Historians of Chicago, Chicago Writers Association, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Waltzing Australia
ISBN: 1419663062

BookSurge Publishing. 2007

Waltzing Australia was born out of a dream—and a journey. After walking away from her corporate career, Cynthia Clampitt headed to Australia, to start over, to write, and to test the limits of what she could do. Waltzing Australia recounts that joyous adventure. It is a story about change and about making dreams come true. But more than that, it is about Australia: the history, legends and art, both European and Aboriginal

the beauty, the challenge, the people, the land. From Sydney to Perth, Tasmania to Darwin, tropics to desert, city to wilderness, Clampitt carries the reader along on an exhilarating grand tour of a fascinating country. With a writing style reminiscent of Annie Dillard, she captures the essence of the land Down Under and invites others to fall in love with Australia.

Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland (Heartland Foodways)
ISBN: 0252080572

University of Illinois Press. 2015

Food historian Cynthia Clampitt pens the epic story of what happened when Mesoamerican farmers bred a nondescript grass into a staff of life so prolific, so protean, that it represents nothing less than one of humankind's greatest achievements. Blending history with expert reportage, she traces the disparate threads that have woven corn into the fabric of our diet, politics, economy, science, and cuisine. At the same time she explores its future as a source of energy and the foundation of seemingly limitless green technologies. The result is a bourbon-to-biofuels portrait of the astonishing plant that sustains the world.


Mom’s Choice Award for travel writing for Waltzing Australia.

Availability for Public Speaking

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

For program topics or for upcoming speaking engagements, visit [ Cynthia’s website] and click on the Speaking Links at bottom left.

How Corn Changed Itself and then Changed Everything Else Program

About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass in Mexico transformed itself into corn – and then transformed the Americas, even before First Contact. After First Contact, it swept across North America, building cities and inspiring poets, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Vampires, Henry Ford, time zones, Fritos, and the Chicago Bears are all part of this remarkable story. Today, corn is more important than ever. (Teens and Adults; 60 min; $135 plus travel and permission to sell books)

Seeking Spiceland Program

For most of recorded history, people searched for routes to southern India, source of many of world’s most popular spices. But Southern India offers more than spices. It possesses a surprising history, stunning beauty, gracious people, and wonderful food. Come learn about spice history, the place of southern India in world events, and the delights to be enjoyed by a visitor today. Narrated slideshow. Includes handouts. (General audience; 60 min; $135 plus travel)

The Rule of Rum Program

Come learn the reason rum arose where it did and when it did, and how pirates got involved, as well as how rum helped unite the 13 Colonies, why it became one of the issues that led to the American Revolution, how it also led to a revolt in its next home after the Caribbean: Australia, and how it affected culture and history after that. Includes handouts. (Adults; 60 min; $135 plus travel)