By James McGrath Morris
From the twerks of Miley Cyrus to the typography of Giambattista Bodoni, from the humor of Bill Cosby to the antics of Charlie Chaplin, from the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower to the rule of Joseph Stalin, the more than 100 biographies coming to bookstores this fall run the gamut of possibilities. While biography, like other segments of publishing, is navigating rough waters, writers keep producing a remarkably rich selection of works.
As TBC does twice a year, here is a discursive look at what is coming. A complete list is available here.
The first books to resonate with readers this fall are two September titles: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, by Karen Abbott (Harper) and Tennessee Williams: Made Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr (Norton). Also getting some notice is The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature’s Greatest Monsters by Andrew McConnell Stott (Pegasus). One of the cast members of this prosopography is Mary Shelley, who will be the subject of Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon, coming out in February (Random House).
As usual, as the fall gets underway, political figures will be featured in a large share of the biographies. Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns have put together The Roosevelts: An Intimate History as a tie-in to the seven-part documentary airing on PBS this fall, which follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Continue Reading…