RWA's Origin Story

In 1979, editor Vivian Stephens and a group of romance writers met at a writers conference at the University of Houston. At the time, writers groups largely ignore the romance genre, and these women recognized the value of an organization dedicated to the needs of romance writers in the rapidly growing American romance fiction market.

By December 1980, these five writers had grown to thirty-seven, and they held the first official meeting of Romance Writers of America® in Houston, Texas. The first board of directors was elected, and they quickly set about recruiting members. The first annual Romance Writers of America conference was held in June 1981 and was an overwhelming success. To this day, RWA hosts a conference each summer in a different US city.

Membership quickly took off, and today our organization has more than 9,000 thousand members and more than 110 chapters in the US, internationally, and online dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers.

RWA's founders instilled in the organization the importance of sharing the knowledge and encouragement that romance writers are hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Vivian Stephens
Rita Clay Estrada