Christine Brookes will present “This American Life: Mary Sturges and the Great Chicago Fire” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at the Waupaca Area Public Library. Hosted by Winchester Academy, the program is free and open to the public. It is preceded by refreshments and conversation at 6 p.m. Brookes was born and raised in Lake Geneva, graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in education, and began her teaching career in Ann Arbor, Mich. She earned a master’s degree in education from Viterbo University in LaCrosse and taught 15 years at Lake Geneva Middle School. In addition to teaching, Brookes is an actor and storyteller, who dramatizes history and literature by re-enacting such characters as Lady Bacon, attendant to Queen Elizabeth I, to introduce the works of William Shakespeare, and Mrs. Wakefield, a Victorian schoolmistress at Wellington Academy where Charles Dickens was once a student. Brookes has performed at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and with several community theater companies. She has presented programs locally, for state and regional educational conferences, and at the Walloon Institute, a residential retreat for educators in Lake Geneva. Brookes will portray the life of Mary Delafield Sturges, a philanthropist, advocate for women, and devoted wife and mother. To flee from the raging fire that destroyed much of Chicago in 1871, Sturges shepherded her children onto the only available train heading north. The family settled in Lake Geneva. In 1894, Sturges deeded her land to the city of Lake Geneva for a public library.