Sebastian Knowles was born in Oxford, England, the heart of education since the 12th century. He came to the United States with a five-hundred-year-old mug in his hands, while we were busy making a hoopla over our two-hundred year old country. He has been wonderfully and repeatedly confounded by us ever since.
Knowles is from a long line of book people, so it was pre-determined, he says, that he would “do books for a living”. So, after a Harvard undergrad and Princeton graduate he ended up at Ohio State, doing books in the English Department.
“This was not my idea of America,” he says of his experience in German Village, which was the locus of his first apartment and is his current home. “It’s a community that really cares about individuals and has little tiny streets. I thought it would be big, impersonal and scary.”
“Ohio State was big, impersonal and scary,” Knowles continues, but with the caveat that he has since conquered that. If anything, HE now seems a little big and scary. He’s often asked to address incoming freshman about the bigness and scariness of State College, but his type of big and scary easily morphs into an inspiring enthusiasm that has motivated countless young minds to likewise “do books for a living.”