Here are brief biographies of the panelists, moderators, and speakers taking part in this year’s conference.
Patricia Albers is the author of Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter: A Life, which was judged by a New York Times reviewer to be “a book about Mitchell that I cannot imagine will ever be improved upon.” Albers’s previous biography was Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti. She is now completing the first biography of the Hungarian-born photographer André Kertész to be published by Other Press. Albers often writes for museum catalogs and reviews art books and exhibitions. She lives in the Bay Area, where she teaches at San Francisco State University.
Heidi Ardizzone, PhD, is associate professor and chair of American Studies at St. Louis University. She is the author of An Illuminated Life: Bella da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007); and the co-author of Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White (W.W. Norton & Company, 2002).
Kai Bird is the Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center. He co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, American Prometheus: The Triumph & Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. His last book was The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (2014). He is currently writing a biography of President Jimmy Carter.
Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers create meaningful connections with their audience. He is the author of Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. He has worked with hundreds of writers as well as amazing organizations that support creative people, such as Penguin Random House, Sesame Workshop, Hachette Book Group, Workman Publishing, J. Walter Thompson, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others. You can find Dan on his blog at http://WeGrowMedia.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @DanBlank.
Jonathan Blunk is the biographer of the revered and influential American poet James Wright (1927–1980). His authorized biography, James Wright: A Life in Poetry, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2017. Blunk is also a poet, essayist, and radio producer. His work has appeared in The Nation, Poets & Writers, The Georgia Review, FIELD, and elsewhere. He assisted with editing A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright (FSG, 2005). Blunk is a graduate of Cornell University and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.
Tonya Bolden, author, co-author, editor of more than forty books, is a recipient of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC’s Nonfiction Award for her body of work. That work includes the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl and Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, A Monumental American Man hailed as a 2018 best book for young people by Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Chicago Public Library, and the Washington Post. Tonya, who lives in New York City, is a Princeton University magna cum laude baccalaureate with a master’s degree from Columbia University.
LeRonn P. Brooks an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Lehman College of CUNY. He is a specialist in modern and contemporary American painting and sculpture. His interviews, essays, and poetry have appeared in publications for Bomb Magazine, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Spelman Museum of Art, The International Review of African American Art as well as The Aperture Foundation, among others. Dr. Brooks is currently working on a themed biography of the Harlem Renaissance-era painter and educator, Hale Aspacio Woodruff.
Ellen F. Brown is a lawyer and an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications. She co-authored the book Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood and is now working on a book about literary estates. Brown holds an MFA in nonfiction writing and also has worked as a rare book and manuscript appraiser/dealer. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and has served on the foundation boards of the Library of Virginia and Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.
Kate Buford’s award-winning Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf, 2010; University of Nebraska, 2012) was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf/Da Capo/Aurum UK) was named one of the best books of 2000 by numerous publications, including The New York Times. Buford has written for the New York Times and other publications and has appeared on many radio and television shows. She was a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace from 1995 to 2004 and is a founding co-partner, with fellow BIO member Abby Santamaria, of Biography by Design, LLC. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Sarah Burnes became an agent in 2001 after stints at Houghton Mifflin, Knopf, and Little, Brown. Joining The Gernert Company in 2005, she represents biographers, critics, journalists, novelists, and children’s fiction writers. Her clients have either won or been shortlisted for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Los Angeles Times First Book Prize, and have received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the Cullman Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. Sarah sits on the board of The New Press and lives with her husband and three children in Brooklyn, NY.
Geoff Burrows is a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he works with Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions. He is a historian of Latin America and the Caribbean whose research has focused on Puerto Rico, the New Deal, and US relations with Latin America. He holds a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center, an MA from Hunter College, and a BA from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming to NEH, he taught at a variety of NYC-area colleges and universities. He lives with his wife and daughters in Washington DC.
Alexis Coe is a historian and the author of Alice & Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, (Pulp, 2014). Her next book, You Never Forget Your First: A Mostly Feminist Biography of George Washington, will be published by Viking (Penguin/Random House) in 2019. Coe’s articles and commentary have been widely published including in The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.
Cathy Curtis is the author of three biographies of artists: Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter (Oxford University Press, 2015); A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning (OUP, 2017); and Alive Still: The Singular Journey of Nell Blaine (OUP, July 2019), about a leading New York painter who became a paraplegic after contracting a severe form of polio at age thirty-seven but battled the odds to become one of America’s great watercolorists. Curtis is turning to the literary world for her next book, the first biography of novelist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, who was married to the poet Robert Lowell.
Kavita Das writes about culture, race, feminism, and their intersections. Nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize, Kavita’s work is published or forthcoming in Tin House, Longreads, The Atlantic, Off Assignment, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, Kenyon Review, NBC News Asian America, Guernica, Quartz, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her first book, Poignant Song: The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar (Harper Collins India, June 2019), is a biography about the Grammy-nominated Hindustani singer, who played a pivotal role in bringing Indian music to the West. Kavita is also at work on a collection of personal essays.
Carol DeBoer-Langworthy teaches biography in the Nonfiction Writing Program of Brown University’s Department of English as well as creative nonfiction, historical narrative, diaries, letters, personal journalism, and autobiography. She has taught English in Egypt, been a Fulbright lecturer in Turkey, and is currently at work on a literary biography of the American writer Neith Boyce (1872–1951). Also a documentary editor, Carol is past president of the Association for Documentary Editing and now the editor of Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies.
Mark Dery is a cultural critic best known for his essays on Afrofuturism (a term he coined) and culture jamming (a phenomenon he popularized). His byline has appeared in a broad range of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Bookforum, Rolling Stone, and Wired. Dery has been a professor of journalism at NYU, taught aesthetics in the Yale School of Art, was a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine, and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome. His most recent book is a biography, Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown, 2018); NPR, Mental Floss, and The Guardian named it One of the Best Books of 2018, and it was a New York Times “Editors’ Choice.”
Tim Duggan is the publisher of Tim Duggan Books, an imprint at Penguin Random House. The authors he has worked with include Timothy Snyder, Daniel Mendelsohn, Michiko Kakutani, Michael Kinsley, Annie Dillard, Adam Begley, and A. Scott Berg. His books include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and multiple finalists for the National Book Award. He is a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is on the advisory council of BIO and the advisory board of the London Book Fair.
Patricia R. Eisemann is a vice president and executive director of publicity at Henry Holt, where she oversees the media roll-out for approximately 60 hardcover books yearly by many prominent and best-selling authors, including Hilary Mantel, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Wolff, Rick Atkinson, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Roger Daltrey, and Andy Cohen. Before Holt, she was with The New York Times for six years in the corporate communications department, working with journalists on breaking news and daily stories. She also spent 25 years at Simon & Schuster, including ten at Scribner, where she launched the media for Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Barbara Bush’s memoir, and The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, among other best sellers.
Joseph A. Esposito is a writer, historian, and educator. He served in three presidential administrations, including being appointed a deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. He also worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at Northern Virginia Community College. Esposito holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Virginia. His meeting John F. Kennedy when he was ten years old sparked a lifetime interest in politics, history and, in the end, writing Dinner in Camelot.
John A. Farrell is the author of Richard Nixon: The Life, which won the PEN America Award for the best biography, and the New York Historical Society Book Prize for the best volume of American history, of 2017. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2001 he published Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century, which won the Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress. His book, Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for best biography of 2012. He has also earned a George Polk Award, and the Gerald Ford Prize and White House Correspondents honors for his coverage of the presidency.
Katherine Flynn is a partner at the Kneerim & Williams Agency, which she joined in 2008. She previously taught literature and composition, edited history textbooks, worked in a rare bookshop, and pursued her B.A. from Johns Hopkins and PhD in History from Brown. She serves on the Boston Book Festival board and as the Publishing Consultant for the Radcliffe Institute. Katherine represents bestselling and prizewinning books in the categories of history, biography, current affairs, science, business, psychology, sociology, and narrative nonfiction, as well as some literary and commercial fiction.
Ruth Franklin is the author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (2016), which won numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and BIO’s Plutarch Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2016. Her essays and reviews appear in many publications, including the New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.
Caroline Fraser is the author of three works of nonfiction, including Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. One of The New York Times’ Ten Best Books of the Year in 2017, Prairie Fires won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, a National Book Critics Circle Award, BIO’s Plutarch Award, and the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for nonfiction. Fraser’s writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic, among other publications. She holds a Ph.D. in literature from Harvard University and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina’s four biographies are Carrington: A Life; Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life of the Author of The Secret Garden; Black London: Life Before Emancipation, and Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How An Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved out of Slavery and into Legend. She has edited five other books and published numerous articles and chapters. She has been a tenured professor at Vassar, Barnard, Dartmouth, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a named professor at the latter two. She is the Dean of Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and was elected in 2017 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently completing a biracial family memoir.
Kenneth Gillett is the principal and founder of Target Marketing Digital—an exclusive full-service digital marketing agency based in New York City that works with brands, mission-driven thought leaders and experts to advance ideas that matter. Kenneth has been building some of the most recognizable brands since 2003 and works with authors to increase their visibility and achieve tangible results for their brand. While Kenneth has worked with hundreds of bestselling authors, his team at Target Marketing Digital has most recently designed and led the digital campaigns for notable authors such as Hillary Clinton, Ray Dalio, Bob Woodward, Glenn Beck, Howard Marks, Tucker Carlson, co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes, Tony Robbins, and business greats, such as Tom Peters, Marshall Goldsmith, Marcus Buckingham, Tim Ferriss, and Jim Collins. Connect with Kenneth on Twitter @TargetMktng and visit targetmktng.com to learn more.
David Groff is an independent editor and publishing consultant, focusing on narrative nonfiction, memoir, biography, and literary and popular fiction, working directly with authors, literary agents, and publishers. Authors he has edited have been published by Basic Books, Farrar Straus, Hachette, HarperCollins, Morrow, Oxford, Penguin Press, St. Martin’s, Simon & Schuster, and Wiley, among other houses. He is the author of two collections of poems, Theory of Devolution and Clay. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, he teaches poetry, nonfiction, and publishing in the MFA creative writing program of the City College of New York.
Michael Hainey is the author of The New York Times best-selling memoir, After Visiting Friends.” The book is currently being adapted for the screen. He is an editor and writer at Esquire and has also worked for GQ and Spy.
Nigel Hamilton is the award-winning, bestselling author of JFK: Reckless Youth, Monty, American Caesars, and War and Peace, the final volume of his “FDR at War” trilogy. He is senior fellow in the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts, where BIO held its inaugural annual conference and he became the organization’s first elected president. He has taught biography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and De Montfort University in Britain, as well as at UMass Boston. He has written widely on the history and practice of biography. With Hans Renders he is co-author of the recent ABC of Modern Biography.
Deborah Heiligman is the author of 31 books. Her most recent, Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for nonfiction, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award, the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, and an ALA Printz Honor. Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith, was a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner, Printz Honor book and a National Book Award finalist. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos won the Cook Prize, the Annie Izard Storytelling Award, and was an Obis Pictus Honor. Deborah lives in NYC with her husband, Jonathan Weiner.
Anne C. Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made (Nan Talese/Doubleday, 2009) was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen a best book of the year by Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and others. Her most recent book is Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times, published by Harcourt Houghton Mifflin in 2015. She has been an award-winning editor at magazines including Esquire, Lear’s, and Condé Nast Publications, and is managing director of the New York University Biography Seminar. She is at work on a third book about the life and times of a fierce twentieth-century woman of ideas.
Stephen Heyman is at work on the first major biography of the American author, conservationist, and pioneering organic farmer Louis Bromfield (1896-1956), to be published by W. W. Norton. He is currently a residential fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is also the recipient of a 2018 Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Before beginning his book project, Heyman was on staff at The New York Times, where he was most recently features editor of T Magazine. His articles have also appeared in Slate, Esquire, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Vogue and W.
Meredith Hindley is the author of Destination Casablanca: Exile, Espionage, and the Battle for North Africa in World War II (PublicAffairs 2017). She has spent more than two decades doing public affairs and digital strategy for a federal cultural agency. Her writing credits include Humanities, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and Barnes and Noble Review. Hindley received her PhD from American University. Her website is http://meredithhindley.com/.
Norm Hirschy is a senior editor in the Academic and Trade Division at Oxford University Press, where he acquires in music, dance, film, and cultural biography. He has published biographies by Cathy Curtis, Peter Filkins, Vincent Giroud, Nadine Meisner, Howard Pollack, Kathleen Riley, Sjeng Scheijen, and Edmund Gordon, whose The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography was named a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book.
Charlotte Jacobs is a Professor of Medicine (Emerita) at Stanford University. Her first biography, Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin’s Disease (2010), was selected as one of the “Best Five Books” on doctors’ lives by The Wall Street Journal. Her second biography, Jonas Salk: A Life (2015) was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book prize. She is currently writing a biography of Setsuko Nakamura Thurlow, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at age thirteen and has spent the rest of her life trying to prevent it from happening again.
John Kaag is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and the 2019 Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. He is author of the critically acclaimed Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are, which was a 2018 NPR Best Book of the Year. The New Yorker writes that “In this engagingly unacademic meditation, [Kaag] interweaves Friedrich Nietzsche’s biography with accounts of his own visits to Sils-Maria, in the Swiss Alps. [He] writes of reconciling a hunger for meaningful, extreme experience with mundane reality.” Kaag’s American Philosophy: A Love Story was a New York Times Editors’ Choice for 2016.
Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University, has published seven books on women’s writing, including Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, an epistolary biography of Zora Neale Hurston, and Miss Anne in Harlem, a group biography of the white women of the Harlem Renaissance, both New York Times Notable Books. She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Cullman Center fellowship at the New York Public Library, an NEH “Public Scholar” fellowship, and a DuBois Center fellowship at Harvard. Her biography of Jessica Mitford is forthcoming from HarperCollins.
Grace Elizabeth Kendall, Senior Editor, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan. Grace works on a wide range of material from picture books to YA novels, and biographies. She publishes exciting projects from debut authors, seasoned veterans, and award-winners, including Mama Africa! by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine, illustrated by CSK John Steptoe-winner Charly Palmer; You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, which was a Walter Honor, South Asia Book Award Winner, and a National Book Award Nominee; and Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson. Grace also publishes ongoing series, like the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books by Debbi Michiko Florence. @GraceKendallLit
Lindie Koorts is a South African biographer. She is a senior lecturer at the International Studies Group, University of the Free State and holds a Newton Advanced Fellowship from the British Academy for her ongoing biographical research on Paul Kruger, the president of the Transvaal at the time of the South African War. Her biography of D. F. Malan, the man who instituted the policy of apartheid, was the first comprehensive biography of an apartheid leader to have been published after the country’s turn to democracy in 1994. The book was shortlisted for South Africa’s foremost non-fiction awards, including the Sunday Times Alan Paton shortlist, and the KykNET-Rapport shortlist for non-fiction. firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Kuhl is Curator of Poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature at Beinecke Library. She is the author of exhibition catalogs including Intimate Circles: American Women in the Arts, The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn, and poetry collections including Pine to Sound, Suspend and The Wife of the Left Hand. She is the curator of Audubon at Beinecke. Additional information and examples of Kuhl’s work can be found at online: www.phylumpress.com/nancykuhl.htm
Linda Leavell is the author of Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, which won the 2014 Plutarch Award, the Modernist Studies Association book award, and the PEN Award. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. She is also the author of Marianne Moore and the Visual Arts: Prismatic Color, a book of literary criticism, and for twenty-five years was a professor of American literature. Her current project, under contract with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is a group biography of the Stieglitz circle.
Journalist and historian Marc Leepson is the author of nine books. They include Saving Monticello, Flag: An American Biography, and three biographies of humans: Lafayette: Idealist General (2011), What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life (2014), and Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Wars of Army Sgt. Barry Sadler (2017). He has written for many magazines, newspapers, and reference books, including The Encyclopedia Britannica and The Dictionary of Virginia Biography. He was elected to BIO’s Board of Directors in 2013 and serves as the organization’s Treasurer. His website is www.marcleepson.com
Beverly Lowry was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. In addition to Her Dream of Dreams, The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker, she is the author of six novels and three other books of nonfiction: Harriet Tubman, Imagining a Life; Crossed Over: A Murder, a Memoir; and Who Killed These Girls: Cold Case, the Yogurt Shop Murders. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, she has published works of fiction and nonfiction in many periodicals, including The New Yorker. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Megan Marshall is the author of three biographies: The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (2005), winner of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (2013), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2014; and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (2017), a finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Christian Gauss Prize for literary scholarship. She is the Charles Wesley Emerson College Professor at Emerson College, where she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program.
Justin Martin is the author of five books featuring subjects ranging from a Federal Reserve chairman (Greenspan: The Man Behind the Money, 1990) to a pioneering landscape architect (Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, 2011). His latest is A Fierce Glory (September 2018), a group biography treatment of Antietam, the pivotal Civil War battle. Martin prides himself on being a thorough researcher and reporter. Armed with the facts, he aims to render his subjects in novelistic fashion and considers it the highest compliment when someone says, “Your book reads like fiction.” Martin, a former member of BIO Board of Directors, lives in New York City.
James McGrath Morris’s books include The New York Times best-selling Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, which was awarded the Benjamin Hooks National Book Prize for the best work in civil rights history; Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power; and The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War. He is currently working on a biography of Tony Hillerman, author of a ground-breaking series of Navajo detective novels.
Brooklyn-born and currently LA based, Lisa Napoli is a career journalist who has worked in all media. Her first biography, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away, was her second book. It was published in November 2016 by Dutton. She’s currently working with BIO board member Sonja Williams on a podcast featuring biographers, and on a history of the creation of CNN.
Pamela Newkirk, PhD, is professor of journalism at New York University and the author most recently of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, (Amistad, 2015). The book was listed among the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, The Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle and won the NAACP Image Award for Best Nonfiction Literature. Her forthcoming book Diversity, Inc. will be published by Bold Type in Fall 2019.
Eric Palmen is chief editor of Biografieportaal, a review site for Dutch biographies. He published two micro histories about the Dutch Republic. In Dwaze Liefde he deals with the concepts of love and marriage during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, from the perspective of a family history of four generations. Kaat Mossel is the portrait of a woman in Rotterdam during the revolution of 1781–1787. She was a fierce opponent of the so called “patriots” who were inspired by the American Revolution. At the moment he is working on a biography of Janus van Domburg (1895–1983), a film critic who was a passionate advocate of the art film in the Netherlands. email@example.com
Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she is also affiliated with the Programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Law and Public Affairs. A scholar of legal history and cultural and literary studies, Perry is the author of five books, including the 2018 biography of Lorraine Hansberry: Looking for Lorraine. Perry lives in the Philadelphia area with her two sons.
Melinda M. Ponder is the author of Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea, a life-and-times biography of the Wellesley College political activist, globetrotter, protégé of Longfellow, mentor of Robert Frost, and poet of “America the Beautiful.” She has published two books and numerous essays and articles on Nathaniel Hawthorne and other American and British authors in Genre, The Chicago Tribune, The Essex Institute Historical Collections, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, and has given more than fifty talks and media interviews on her new biography. An active member of the Boston Biographers Group, she understands the value of learning from and supporting other biographers. See www.melindaponder.com.
Catherine Reef is the author, most recently, of Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator. Her books include the highly acclaimed Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse; Victoria: Portrait of a Queen; The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne; and Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life. She has received the Sydney Taylor Award, the Joan G. Sugarman Award, and Jefferson Cup, Golden Kite, and National Jewish Book Award honors. In addition, her titles consistently appear on lists of “best” and “notable” books. Catherine lives and works in College Park, Maryland.
Tom Reiss’s biographies have focused on historical outsiders who navigated moments of global upheaval and risked everything to avoid betraying their ideals. His most recent book, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize and the 2013 PEN Award. His previous book, The Orientalist, about a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and a best-selling author in Nazi Germany, was a finalist for the 2006 Samuel Johnson Prize. He has written for The New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. His books have been translated into over 25 languages.
David Remnick has been the editor of The New Yorker since 1998. His books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire; King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero; and The Bridge, a biography of Barack Obama.
Hans Renders directs the Biography Institute, Groningen University, where he is professor of history and theory of biography, which he teaches. He is a former BIO board member; is editor-in-chief of the series Biography Studies; Board Chair of Het Biografisch Portaal van Nederland; and board member of De Nederlandse Biografie Prijs. He publishes widely on theory and biography, e.g., Theoretical Approaches to Biography (2014) and The Biographical Turn, Lives in History (2017). He also broadcasts regularly on radio. He has written lives of Jan Hanlo and Jan Campert; is co-author of The ABC of Modern Biography; and is now tackling the artist Theo van Doesburg. J.W.Renders@rug.nl
Lance Richardson is the author of House of Nutter: The Rebel Tailor of Savile Row, about two brothers—one a designer, the other a photographer—who had an indelible impact in the worlds of twentieth century fashion and rock music. As a journalist, his work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Slate, Al Jazeera, newyorker.com, and the national newspaper of Australia, where he is originally from. He is currently at work on his second book, True Nature: The Odyssey of Peter Matthiessen, which will be released sometime before the next century.
Anne Boyd Rioux is the author of Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters (Norton, 2018) and Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist (Norton), chosen as one of the ten best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune. She is the recipient of two NEH fellowships, one for public humanities, and is a professor at the University of New Orleans. Her website is http://anneboydrioux.com/.
Karin Roffman is the author of The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life (FSG, 2017), which was one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books in 2017. She has also published From the Modernist Annex: Women Writers in Libraries and Museums (2010), the winner of the University of Alabama Manuscript Prize. She has published on art, poetry, and biography in Raritan, Modern Fiction Studies, Artforum, Rain Taxi, and others. She currently writes “The Unanswered Question” column for The Biographer’s Craft newsletter and is Senior Lecturer and Associate Director of Public Humanities at Yale University.
Carl Rollyson’s biographies include American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath; A Real American Character: The Life of Walter Brennan; Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews; Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress; and Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography. His books about biography include Biography: A User’s Guide and Confessions of a Serial Biographer. His reviews of biographies have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Minneapolis Star Tribune, The New Criterion, and other publications. Rollyson’s two-volume biography, The Life of William Faulkner, will be published in the spring and fall of 2020.
Jim Rutman represents a variety of journalists, historians, and critics whose work examines an array of cultural and historical subjects and figures that probe and challenge standing assumptions about the world’s inner workings. He has worked with biographers who have chronicled the lives of Upton Sinclair, Martin Luther, Clarice Lispector, Jimi Hendrix, and Fernando Pessoa, along with biographies of concepts such as privacy, color, and doubt. He also represents formally adventurous and stylistically diverse fiction writers like Sheila Heti, Alissa Nutting, Jesse Ball, and Affinity Konar. He has been with Sterling Lord Literistic since 1998.
Abigail Santamaria is currently at work on I Am Meg: The Life of Madeleine L’Engle (forthcoming from FSG), the first adult biography of the author who brought us A Wrinkle in Time. She is also the author of Joy: Poet, Seeker, & the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), about the communist poet Joy Davidman. In 2016, Abby co-founded Biography by Design, LLC, with Kate Buford, to help individuals and corporations write their stories. She earned an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University, has contributed to numerous publications, and lives in New York City with her family.
Stacy Schiff won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). She is the author as well of Saint-Exupéry, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, awarded the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. Her Cleopatra: A Life has been translated into 30 languages and won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. David McCullough deemed Schiff’s most recent book, The Witches: Salem 1692, “brilliant from start to finish.” Like Cleopatra, it was a number-one bestseller. Praised for her meticulous scholarship and her witty style, Schiff has contributed frequently to the New York Times op-ed page and the New York Times Book Review, as well as to most national publications. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. The recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she was named a Library Lion of the New York Public Library. Schiff is at work on a biography of Samuel Adams, to be published by Little, Brown.
David N. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked at the US Department of State, the Brookings Institution, and Goldman Sachs in London and New York. He has published widely on US strategic nuclear weapons policy, NATO, and foreign policy, and is the author of the recently published biography of Enrico Fermi, The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age (Basic Books). He lives in New York with his wife Susan.
Joanna Scutts is a literary critic and cultural historian based in New York. She is the author of The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It (Liveright, 2017), and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Yorker online, Slate, and The Guardian, among many other venues. As a researcher and curator at the New-York Historical Society, she helped plan and launch the new Center for Women’s History, which opened to the public in 2017. Her new book project explores friendship and feminism in New York in the 1910s.
Ray Anthony Shepard’s debut young adult biography, Now or Never! 54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery, received star reviews from School Library Connection and Kirkus, was listed by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Books of the Year for Teens, and named the Carter G. Woodson Honor Book by the National Council of Social Studies. Junior Library Guild and Scholastic Book Fairs selected Now or Never! for their subscribers. Ray, who lives and works less than a mile from the Paul Revere capture site, is working on a group biography of six women and men who changed American history.
Elaine Showalter is Professor Emerita of English and Avalon Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University. She has written ten books, including A Jury of Her Peers; American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (Knopf, 2009), which was awarded the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism. Her most recent book, The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography was published in 2016. She reviews books for many newspapers and periodicals in the U.S. and U.K. including many biographies. Showalter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Carol Sklenicka’s Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life was named one of the “Best 10 Books of 2009” by The New York Times Book Review and a notable book of that year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post. Sklenicka earned a PhD at Washington University in St. Louis and taught literature and writing at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and Marquette University. She is currently completing a biography of short story writer and novelist Alice Adams that Scribner will publish in November 2019. She lives in Sonoma County, California.
Justin Spring has written three biographies: Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art (Yale University Press, 1999); Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (FSG, 2011) and The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy (FSG, 2017). Spring’s other writings on 20th century American art and culture include monographs, museum publications, and exhibition catalogues, as well as articles in Artforum, The Village Voice, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. His biographies have been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Leon Levy Fellowship, and by various library fellowships at colleges, universities, and public institutions throughout the United States including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Amherst and University of Texas, Austin.
Mónica Szurmuk is Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Buenos Aires. She has written extensively on gender, memory, women’s literature and Jewish culture in Latin America. She has published several academic books including Women in Argentina, Early Travel Narratives; The Dictionary of Latin American Cultural Studies, Sitios de la memoria: México después del ´68, and The Cambridge History of Latin American Women’s Literature. Her essays and reviews have appeared in newspapers and trade magazines in Argentina and Mexico. La vocación desmesurada: Una biografía de Alberto Gerchunoff, her biography of Jewish-Argentinean writer, journalist, and diplomat Alberto Gerchunoff, was published in 2018 by Penguin-Random House. firstname.lastname@example.org
Judith Thurman has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2000 and a contributor since 1987, specializing in cultural criticism. She has written about paleolithic cave art; artisanal tofu in Japan; hyperpolyglots–people who speak more than eleven languages; and about literature, film, photography, translation, and performance art. From the short sketch of a hijabi designer in Brooklyn, to the long profile of a kimono master in Kyoto, and a reportage on the career of Yves Saint Laurent (a piece chosen for the “Best American Essays of 2003”), Thurman has explored fashion as a cultural phenomenon. She is the author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1983, and was the basis for Sydney Pollack’s Oscar-winning film Out of Africa; Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette, which won the Los Angeles Times and Salon Book Awards for Biography in 1999; and Cleopatra’s Nose: 39 Varieties of Desire, a collection of her New Yorker essays. Thurman’s honors include the Harold D. Vursell award for prose style from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Rungstedlund Prize from the Royal Danish Academy; and the 2019 Mary McCarthy Prize, from Bard College, for the life’s work of a woman writer. She is a chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Billy Tooma is the award-nominated documentary filmmaker behind Clarence Chamberlin: Fly First & Fight Afterward and The Black Eagle of Harlem. He teaches English at Essex County College (Newark, NJ), where he incorporates biography studies into his undergraduate courses (i.e., pairing the biographies of authors with their literary works, with an entire semester focused on biography and history). Professor Tooma earned his doctorate at Drew University where he is now on the Arts & Letters graduate faculty; his Biographical Documentaries course ran in fall 2018. He believes strongly in the study of biography at grade school as well as in higher education.
Mariam Touba is a longtime reference librarian for printed collections at the New-York Historical Society, specializing in newspapers and in the Revolutionary period and the Early Republic. She has assisted biographers, historians, architects, and genealogists in viewing library treasures and finding little known-facts. She included some of those facts as a contributor to When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green? And 101 Other Questions about New York City (Columbia University Press, 2010). Her main biographical interest is Thomas Paine, the subject of her exhibits, articles, conference papers, and walking tours and about whom she is always eager to answer questions.
Holly Van Leuven is the author of Ray Bolger: More than a Scarecrow (Oxford University Press, 2019). She began the project at age 20—while pursuing her BFA at Emerson College—when she coincidentally met one of Bolger’s former dance partners through YouTube. Pursuing the trail of Bolger, Van Leuven became the first researcher to access his private papers stored at UCLA. Van Leuven’s early work earned her Emerson College’s Senior Writing Award for High Distinction in Nonfiction, the highest award granted to undergraduates by the college. In 2014, she became the inaugural winner of BIO’s Hazel Rowley Prize.
David Veltman works as a PhD student at the Biography Institute (University of Groningen) on a biography of the Flemish artist Felix de Boeck (1898–1 995). Together with Hans Renders and Madelon Franssen, David organized in 2018 the widely acclaimed conference Different Lives: Global Perspectives on Biography in Public Cultures and Societies. David has a master’s degree in Dutch modern literature. He is a specialist on Belgian twentieth-century biography. After graduating in 2005, he worked for eight years in the Dutch auction house Bubb Kuyper. He is a freelance reporter for the Dutch artist’s magazines Atelier and kM (Artist’s Material). D.Veltman@rug.nl
Lawrence Weschler, director emeritus at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, is the author of coming on 20 books, including Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder; parallel biographies of science-besotted artists Robert Irwin and David Hockney; Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists; and, coming this summer, And How Are You, Dr. Sacks, a biographical memoir of his longtime friendship with the late great neurologist.
Shomari Wills is a journalist and the author of Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires, (HarperCollins, 2018). He has worked for CNN and ABC TV’s Good Morning America, where he was part of an Emmy Award-winning production team.