To Pittsburgh with Love

University president writes first novel

Black and white photo of a man wearing a suit with academic buildings in the background

Credit: Courtesy of Duquesne University

Ken Gormley ’80, president of Duquesne University and author of several nonfiction books, including a biography of Archibald Cox ’37, writes: “Now, after over 30 years of work, I’ve completed my first piece of fiction, ‘The Heiress of Pittsburgh.’ It’s set in the little mill towns around Pittsburgh (with numerous flashbacks to Harvard Law School) in the late ’50s and ’70s, as seen by characters engaged in a courtroom battle over a multimillion-dollar estate in 2008. The novel’s principal character is a Harvard Law School grad who relives key moments of his time at HLS as he questions whether he made the right choice in returning home to Pittsburgh to represent regular people in a small, unglamorous law firm. The book is intended to be a love story of sorts to Pittsburgh and a tribute to the qualities that existed in little working-class towns. It’s also about the opportunities presented to someone admitted to HLS and the choices one must make along the way. There are elements of historical fiction in the book as well, so many of the scenes should evoke vivid memories for readers who lived through these times, including HLS grads.” Scott Turow ’78 has written that the novel “is a twisty, fulfilling legal thriller, in which the city of Pittsburgh takes center stage alongside a cast of memorable characters. The hold that the past has on the present, loves lost and found, the complex relationship between remembering and speaking the truth, are the themes that add power to a truly gripping story. Loved this book!” Gormley adds that he is donating all royalties from sales of the novel to a creative writing fund in the College of Arts at Duquesne. The former mayor of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania (a small community outside Pittsburgh), he lives there with his wife and family.