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The Lost Colony: A Mirror For American Culture

In 1587, more than 100 men, women, and children traveled to the New World from England to found a colony on Roanoke Island. The colony’s governor went back to England later that year to get more supplies and returned in 1590. But by then, the colonists were gone.

The story of the “lost colony” took center stage in the American imagination in the 1830s, when a historian wrote a bestselling account of the mystery. At that time in American history, there were lots of immigrants coming to the United States. White people clung to the story of these lost white founders and especially to Virginia Dare, the first child born in the colony. People at the time said she was the first white child born on American soil.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Andrew Lawler about the role Virginia Dare and the rest of the lost colonists have played in American culture. Lawler is the author of “The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke” (Doubleday/2018) He’s also a contributing writer for Science and a contributing editor for Archaeology Magazine.

He will be at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest on Friday, June 8. On Saturday, June 9, he will be at McIntyre’s in Pittsboro and at Bookmarks in Winston-Salem. Lawler will be at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill on Monday, June 11, and he will be at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham on Thursday, June 14. On Friday, June 15, he will be at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington.


Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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