Robert Hartley, a native of Winfield, Kansas, has been writing professionally for more than 65 years. “Writing is almost as much a part of my life as breathing. I discovered serious writing at age 14, working as a sports writer for my hometown newspaper.” He graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas then had a 30-year career in the newspaper business — as reporter, editor, and publisher. “During that time I wrote constantly as part of my work. Twice I wrote published books on Illinois politics. As newspaper work took me to Idaho, Ohio and Washington State, I maintained a writing regime for a variety of publications, and discovered the importance of editing to the writing process,” said Hartley said, who for more than a decade had been an editor and executive for Lindsay-Schaub newspapers based in Decatur, Ill. “The same was true during a 12-year career in public relations.”
He retired in 1998 as co-CEO of Seattle’s Rockey Company. During this time writing was part of the day job. In his spare time he wrote for wire services (sports), newspapers (politics and travel), and magazines (sports, politics and travel), and wrote books, too. Today he continues to write. “As retirement arrived I reached my goal of fulltime writing about politics and history. Since 1999 I have written or co-written nine books and a handful of history magazine articles.” He has received Illinois Historical Society special achievement awards for books dating to 1980. In April 2006, he and co-author David Kenney received a certificate for superior achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society for Death Underground: The Centralia and West Frankfort Mine Disasters. It was the second award from ISHS for the duo. In 2004 he and Kenney were honored for their scholarly work on Illinois senators. In early 2004, the Illinois State Library selected Lewis & Clark in the Illinois Country as the focus of its Corps of Discovery bicentennial celebration. In 2010, Hartley was the subject of an extensive oral history project through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s Historians Speak program.
“On 14 occasions since 1983 I have presented history papers at annual programs sponsored by the Illinois Historical Society and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency,” Hartley said. “The subjects have inspired books and history articles, and have resulted from research for such projects.”
He and his wife, Mary, live in Winfield, Kansas.