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Robert James Waller

Robert James Waller -- (August 1, 1939 -- March 10, 2017)

Robert James Waller wrote the best-selling author of the novel The Bridges of Madison County, set in Iowa, in 1992. 
He served as a Professor and then Dean at the University of Northern Iowa from 1968 until 1996.
Waller was a writer, photographer, poet, and musician. He lived in Texas before his death.

Events for this Author

Robert James Waller -- May 2017

The celebration of Robert James Waller launches our year of the Cedar Falls Authors Festival.
Thursday, May 4:  Festival Kick-off.  Robert James Waller Program, Hearst Center, at 7 pm. by Scott Cawelti. (Scott had a full house for his program: the picture above came from the Waterloo Courier).
  • Thursday, May 4: Eight Songs by Robert Waller: An Appreciation of his Music & Poetry at the Hearst Center for the Arts, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, May 5: "Bridges and Bridges: Two Takes on the Same Story" at the Hearst Center for the Arts, 7 p.m.

blue jeans
 Waller looking reflective Waller looking relaxed
scott and bob
Scott Cawelti with Robert Waller The movie set at the famous bridge
movie bridges
The movie version of The Bridges of Madison County starred Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep The book that brought so much fame to Waller: a love story.. 


Robert James Waller was born August 1, 1939 in Rockford, Iowa. He attended the University of Northern Iowa where he received his BA ('62) and MA ('64). 

He received his PhD in business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington in 1968.

Later that year he returned to UNI and began teaching courses in management and economics, and in 1977 became a full Professor. 

He became Dean of the College of Business in 1980 and retired from that position in 1986. 

Several of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list including 1992's The Bridges of Madison County which was the top best-seller in 1993. 

Both that novel and his 1995 novel, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, have been made into motion pictures. 

Waller was a long time resident of Texas after leaving Iowa.

Robert James Waller's death

We received sad news, as Robert James Waller died March 10, 2017. Here is the story from the Waterloo Courier.
"UPDATE: "Bridges of Madison Co.' author Robert Waller dies," by Melody Parker. 
  • Mar 10, 2017. 
  • Waterloo Courier.

  • Here is Scott Cawelti's tribute to Robert James Waller.  "Waller's friendship born in music," by Scott Cawelti, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Waterloo Courier.

    The New York Times also covered Waller's death.  "Robert James Waller, Author of ‘The Bridges of Madison County,’ Dies at 77," by William Grimes. March 10, 2017. The New York Times.

    Waller's passing was also noted in the Des Moines Register'Bridges of Madison County' author Robert James Waller dies, by Mark Kennedy, AP. March 10, 2017. The Des Moines Register.

    An article posted on AOL's Entertainment page includes a video, a set of photos about Madison County, links to related stories, and a more entertainment styled tribute to Waller. 'Bridges of Madison County' author Robert James Waller dies at 77,” by Sarah Ahern. March 10th, 2017.  AOL.com.

    Connection to Cedar Falls

    Waller studied at the University of Northern Iowa, which was then known as the Iowa State Teachers College. 

    After getting a PhD, he returned to UNI to teach, became a Dean, and was in the community from 1968 until 1996. 

    He loved music, photography, and writing poetry. 

    waller at chalkboard
    waller on basketball team
    Waller in the classroom, from UNI's Special Collections.On the basketball team: Waller is in the second row, fourth from the left.

    Special Collections -- Information about Waller and photos of him in the classroom and on the basketball team.

    List of Works 

    The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, with 50 million copies sold worldwide. 

    It has also been adapted into a feature film in 1995 and a musical in 2013.


    ·        The Bridges of Madison County (1992) (original UK title Love in Black and White)[4]

    ·        Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend (1993) ISBN 0-446-51653-8

    ·        Puerto Vallarta Squeeze (1995)

    ·        Border Music (1995)

    ·        A Thousand Country Roads: An Epilogue to The Bridges of Madison County (2002)

    ·        High Plains Tango (2005)

    ·        The Long Night of Winchell Dear (2007)


    ·        Just Beyond the Firelight (1988)


    ·        One Good Road is Enough (1990)

    ·        Iowa: Perspectives on Today and Tomorrow (1991)

    ·        Old Songs in a New Café (1994)

    ·        Images (1994) 

    ·        The Summer Nights Never End...Until They Do: Life, Liberty, and the Lure of the Short-Run (2012)


    ·        The Ballads of Madison County: A Collection of Songs

    Want to Find a Book by Robert James Waller?

    Try the Cedar Falls Library: here is a list of his books in their collection.


    Wikipedia entry on Waller


    The Wikipedia entry on the book that brought Waller so much fame.

    This article is about the book. For the film, see The Bridges of Madison County (film)

    For the musical, see The Bridges of Madison County (musical)

    For the bridges, see List of Madison County Covered Bridges.


    Here is the Wikipedia entry on Robert James Waller


    An interesting interview with Robert Waller

    "Novel's Sequel: Bridges Are Burned; 'Madison County' Author Returns to His Best-Selling Characters," by Leslie Kaufman. April 4, 2002. The New York Times.

    "Robert Waller makes multi-million dollar gift to UNI," by 
  • May 18, 2012

  • Robert James Waller Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know by Daniel S. Levine
    March 10, 2017.

    UNI's website celebrates notable Alumni, including Robert Waller.

    Notice that you can download an introductory power point about his life and work, as well as a document with eight of his songs/poems.

    Last updated Nov. 9, 2017

    Cherie Dargan,
    Mar 3, 2017, 1:56 PM
    Cherie Dargan,
    Apr 2, 2017, 7:49 AM