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Short Bio:
Katheen Ernst, bestselling author and social historian, writes award-winning mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction for adults and young readers. To date readers have purchased 1.75 million print, audio, and ebook copies of her forty-one published books. Her latest book is The Solace of Stars: A Hanneke Bauer Mystery (July, 2023). Visit for more information.

Long Bio:
Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and bestselling author. Her latest book is The Solace of Stars: A Hanneke Bauer Mystery, featuring a German immigrant in the 1850s. She also wrote A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons, which was
selected by the Library of Congress Center For The Book to represent Wisconsin at the National Book Festival, and earned an invitation to speak at the National Archives. Kathleen worked at Old World Wisconsin as curator of interpretation and collections for over a decade.

Kathleen has also written many historical novels for young readers, as well as television scripts, poetry, and essays. The Wisconsin Library Association has named Kathleen a “Notable Wisconsin Author.” Honors for her work also include serving as Write-In- Residence for the National Park Service, the American Heritage Women in the Arts Recognition Award for Literature from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a Major Achievement Award from the Council For Wisconsin Writers, the Sterling North Legacy Award for Children’s Literature, Edgar and Agatha Award nominations, and an Emmy for children’s programming. To date readers have purchased 1.75 million print, audio, and ebook copies of her Forty-one published books.Visit for more information.

Book Genre

Adult Mysteries:
Kathleen writes the award-winning Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries (Three Towers Press), which feature a museum curator; and the Hanneke Bauer historical mysteries (Level Best Books), starring a German-speaking immigrant struggling to find
her home in the 1850s.

American Girl:
Kathleen is the creator of Caroline Abbott, the American Girl historical character set during the War of 1812, and author of the award-winning series about her. She has also written books about Kit, Molly, Josephina, Kirsten, Felicity; and three History Mysteries.

American Civil War:
Kathleen has written five historical fiction novels for young readers, and one non-fiction history book for adults, about the Civil War. One of the former earned her a National Park Service month-long Artist In Residence at the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. The latter, Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, earned her a National Park Service invitation to speak at the ceremonies (live on C-SPAN) marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

About Kathleen

Kathleen lives in Middleton, Wisconsin, with her husband Scott (AKA "Mr. Ernest") and her feline muse Eliza Jane. Kathleen has called the Badger State home for nearly four decades. She grew up in Maryland, in a family that considered books as fundamental to life as food and water. She started writing as a child and has never stopped. Today, she finds researching books as much fun as writing them, and loves hearing from andmeeting readers most of all.

Kathleen earned a B.S. degree in Environmental Education from West Virginia University and a M.A. in History Education and Writing from Antioch University. She spent over a decade working as an educator and curator for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and another decade scripting and producing instructional television series for the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board/Wisconsin Public Television. These experiences helped provide the foundation for her current full-time job as a self- employed writer.

Kathleen Ernst standing in front of a stone building

Photo By: Kay Klubertanz

Kathleen Ernst

Photo By: Kay Klubertanz

Kathleen Ernst standing in front of a cabin window

Photo By: Scott Meeker

Kathleen Ernst standing in front of plants with a retreat cent in the background

Photo By: Scott Meeker


Kathleen is the author of the following published books.

  • Twenty historical novels and mysteries for young readers from American Girl

  • Eleven Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries for adults and a three-book contract for her Hanneke Bauer Historical mystery series (the first of which has been released) from Three Towers Press

  • Five children's historical novels about the American Civil War from Dutton and White Mane Kids

  • One non-fiction history about the American Civil War from Stackpole Books

  • One non-fiction history about Wisconsin immigrants Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

  • One poetry collection about the experiences of women immigrants from Little Creek Press.

  • One young adult (YA) novel from Cricket Books

For details about an individual book, please click on its title below.

The Solace of Stars - Hanneke Bauer Mystery #2 (Level Best Books, 2023)

Lies of Omission - Hanneke Bauer Mystery #1 (Level Best Books, 2021)

Balancing - Poems of the Female Immigrant Experience in the Upper Midwest, 1830-1930 (Little Creek Press, 2021)

The Weaver's Revenge - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #11 (Three Towers Press, 2021)

Fiddling With Fate - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #10 (Midnight Ink, 2019)

The Lacemaker's Secret: Chloe Ellefson Mystery #9 (Midnight Ink, 2018)

Mining For Justice: Chloe Ellefson Mystery #8 (Midnight Ink, 2017)

Gunpowder and Tea Cakes - My Journey With Felicity (American Girl, 2017)

A Memory of Muskets - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #7 (Midnight Ink, 2016)

Death on the Prairie - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #6 (Midnight Ink, 2015)

A Settler's Year - Pioneer Life Though The Seasons (WHS Press, 2015)

The Smuggler's Secrets - A Caroline Mystery (American Girl, 2015)

Tradition of Deceit - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, 2014)

Catch The Wind - My Journey With Caroline (American Girl, 2014)

Facing the Enemy - A Caroline Classic Volume 2 (American Girl, 2014)

Captain Of The Ship - A Caroline Classic Volume 1 (American Girl, 2014)

Heritage of Darkness - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, 2013)

Traitor In The Shipyard - A Caroline Abbott Mystery (American Girl, 2013)

The Light Keeper’s Legacy - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #3 (Midnight Ink, 2012)

Changes For Caroline (American Girl, 2012)

Caroline’s Battle (American Girl, 2012)

Caroline Takes A Chance (American Girl, 2012)

A Surprise For Caroline (American Girl, 2012)

Caroline’s Secret Message (American Girl, 2012)

Meet Caroline: An American Girl (American Girl, 2012)

The Heirloom Murders - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #2 (Midnight Ink, 2011)

Old World Murder - Chloe Ellefson Mystery #1 (Midnight Ink, 2010)

Clues in the Shadows - A Molly Mystery (American Girl, 2009)

The Runaway Friend - A Kirsten Mystery (American Girl, 2008)

Midnight in Lonesome Hollow - A Kit Mystery (American Girl, 2007)

Hearts of Stone (Dutton, 2006)

Secrets in the Hills - A Josefina Mystery (American Girl, 2006)

Highland Fling (Cricket Books, 2006)

Danger at the Zoo - A Kit Mystery ( American Girl, 2005)

Betrayal at Cross Creek (Pleasant Company, 2004)

Ghosts of Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, 2003)

Whistler in the Dark (Pleasant Company, 2002)

Trouble at Fort La Pointe (Pleasant Company, 2000)

Retreat from Gettysburg (White Mane Kids, 2000)

Too Afraid to Cry - Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign (Stackpole, 1999)

The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg (White Mane Kids, 1997)

The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry (White Mane Kids, 1996)

Awards and Honors

  • American Heritage Women in the Arts Recognition Award for Literature, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution

  • Major Achievement Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers

  • Legacy Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, Sterling North Book & Film Festival

  • Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming, Midwest Chapter, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

  • Ann Powers Best Fiction Book Prize, Council for Wisconsin Writers

  • Five Arthur Tofte Juvenile Fiction Awards, Council for Wisconsin Writers

  • Children’s Literature Award, Society of Midland Authors

  • Flora MacDonald Award, Scottish Heritage Center, St. Andrews Presbyterian College

  • Editors’ Choice Selection, Historical Novels Review

  • Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery, Love is Murder

  • Edgar Allan Poe Award Nomination for Best Children’s Mystery, Mystery Writers of America

  • Four Agatha Award Nominations for Best Children’s/YA Mystery, Malice Domestic

  • Wilbur Schramm Award of Excellence, National Education Telecommunications Association

  • Judges’ Award for Instructional Innovation, National Education Telecommunications Association

  • Platinum Best of Show Award, Aurora Independent Film & Video Competition


Visit Kathleen's Youtube Channel to see her growing list of videos.

Click Here

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