2104 Panelists, Moderators, & Instructors

‘And Then What?’: Creating Suspense in Biography

Moderator: Gayle Feldman is under contract to Random House for a biography of its cofounder Bennett Cerf. She is also New York correspondent of The Bookseller, the British magazine of the book business. Her previous books are a cancer memoir, You Don’t Have to Be Your Mother (Norton, 1994), and Best and Worst of Times: The Changing Business of Trade Books (2003), published in conjunction with a fellowship at the Columbia Journalism School. She was book news editor and a contributing editor at Publishers Weekly, and has written for The New York Times, Self, The Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Nation.

John Aloysius Farrell (www.jafarrell.com) has had a prize-winning career as a newspaperman, notably for The Denver Post and The Boston Globe. He has covered every presidential campaign since 1976, two wars, and the troubles in Northern Ireland. He has also driven an ice cream truck, shined shoes, waited tables, cared for animals in a medical laboratory, and worked in construction and on a kibbutz. His biography Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century (2000) won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress and was excerpted in Pols: Great Writers on American Politicians (2004). Clarence Darrow: Attorney For The Damned won the 2012 Los Angeles Times biography award. Farrell is working on a biography of Richard Nixon.

Carla Kaplan, the Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University and a former Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, (a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for NAACP’s “Image Award”) and The Erotics of Talk: Women’s Writing and Feminist Paradigms. She has edited numerous works of African American literature. Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (HarperCollins) is a New York Times Notable Book and one of Publishers Weekly’s “Ten Best” books of the year. Kaplan’s next book, a biography of Jessica Mitford, is forthcoming from HarperCollins.

John Matteson is a Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College in the City University of New York. He holds an A.B. in history from Princeton University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. His first book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The Lives of Margaret Fuller received the Ann M. Sperber Prize from Fordham University and was shortlisted for BIO’s inaugural Plutarch Prize. Matteson has just completed an annotated edition of Little Women for W. W. Norton and Company.

 

The Challenges of Group Biography

Moderator: Joshua Kendall, a freelance journalist, has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Slate. He has written biographies of the lexicographers Peter Mark Roget (Putnam, 2008), author of Roget’s Thesaurus, and Noah Webster (Putnam, 2011), author of Webster’s Dictionary. His most recent book is America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation (Grand Central, 2013), which profiles seven American icons, including Thomas Jefferson, Henry Heinz, Charles Lindbergh, and Estee Lauder. A graduate of Yale University, Kendall is an Associate Fellow of Yale’s Trumbull College.

David Hajdu is a professor at Columbia University and a critic for The New Republic. He is author of four books, including Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. Both books were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and both won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Music Writing. The critic Jonathan Yardley, in his review of Lush Life for The Washington Post, called it “a book that comes close to being a model biography.”  

 Susan Hertog became a freelance writer and photographer after graduating from Hunter College with a B.A. in English. While raising her three children, she earned an M.F.A. at Columbia University in non-fiction writing. Since then, she has published two biographies: Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life (which can be considered a group bio, since her life cannot be separated from that of her husband Charles’) and Rebecca West  and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power. Susan resides in New York City with her husband Roger.

Justin Martin is a New York City-based biographer whose latest book (Da Capo Press,  fall 2014) is a group portrait of an artist’s circle that hung out at a Manhattan bar during the 1850s. Among the members: a young Walt Whitman, Artemus Ward (America’s first stand-up comic), and Fitz Hugh Ludlow, a psychedelic drug pioneer. Martin has written three previous biographies: on Alan Greenspan, Ralph Nader, and Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park and countless other green space masterpieces. Martin’s work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Twice Marginalized: The Challenges of Writing About Little-Known Gay and Lesbian Subjects

Moderator: Brian Halley is acquisitions editor for the University of Massachusetts Press, based at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After earning an M.A. in literature at the University of London, Halley started his publishing career assisting a literary agent at the Sayle Agency, in London. He then became an editor at Beacon Press, acquiring books in environmental studies, nature writing, LGBT issues, and social justice. At UMass Press, Halley started the Environmental History of the Northeast series; coordinates the Studies in Print Culture and History of the Book and the American Popular Music series; and acquires in American Studies, environmental studies/history, urban studies, and regional books.

Jim Elledge is the author of Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy: The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist, recently published by Overlook Press. His book H, a collection of prose poems, was issued by Lethe Press, and A History of My Tattoo: A Poem won the Lambda Literary Award for gay poetry in 2006. With David Groff, he edited Who’s Yer Daddy?Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. He lives in Atlanta.

Cassandra Langer has authored six books and numerous catalogs and essays. Her critical biography, The Many Masks of Romaine Brooks, will be published by University of Wisconsin Press in 2014, followed by an exhibition of Brooks’ work at the Elisabeth Sackler Feminist Art Center of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2016. Langer blogs about Brooks at http://www.romainebooks.com. She has taught art history and criticism at Florida International University and the University of South Carolina and has been a visiting scholar at Hunter College, Queens College, School of Visual Arts, and The Feminist Art Institute. Langer is a contributing writer for Gay and Lesbian Review International.

Barry Werth is a journalist and the acclaimed author of six books, including The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin, A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2001; paperback, Anchor, 2002); Banquet at Delmonico’s: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America; and 31 Days: Gerald Ford, the Nixon Pardon and a Government in Crisis. Werth’s articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, and GQ. He has taught at Smith College, Mount Holyoke, and Boston University. Werth’s new book is The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

 

Writing for Young Adults

Moderator: Catherine Reef has written more than forty nonfiction books for young people and adults, among them, The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne and Leonard Bernstein and American Music. Her work has earned her the Sydney Taylor Award and the Joan G. Sugarman Children’s Book Award as well as Golden Kite and Jefferson Cup honors. In 2014, Clarion will publish her book Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life, a dual biography for young adults.

Mary Morton Cowan’s biography, Captain Mac: the Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer, won a 2010 National Outdoor Book Award and other honors, and is recommended by the National Science Teachers Association. Her published work also includes a historical novel based on MacMillan’s experiences in the Arctic. Nearly seventy of her articles and stories—including seventeen biographical sketches of personalities such as Lewis Hine and Mary McLeod Bethune—have been published in magazines for youth. Cowan’s articles have also been reprinted in textbooks and anthologies, and included in reading comprehension programs for standardized tests.

Dorothy Dahm has had a lifelong interest in biography for young people. She writes about the genre on her highly regarded and influential blog, Kidsbiographer. Dahm has written for publications and businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom. Dahm lives in Vermont, where she is an English professor at Castleton State College.

Kem Knapp Sawyer’s work includes biographies for teen readers of world figures such as Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela, and Mohandas Gandhi, and of outstanding women such as Harriet Tubman, Abigail Adams, and Eleanor Roosevelt. She is also the author of Refugees: Seeking a Safe Haven and The Amazing Underground Railroad. Sawyer lives in Washington, D.C., where she works as an editor and writer at the Pulitzer Center, a nonprofit that supports international journalism. Sawyer has traveled to Haiti, India, Bangladesh, and Congo to report on children’s issues.

 

Dealing with Your Agent . . . or Choosing Not to Have One

Moderator: Marc Leepson is a journalist and historian, and the author of seven books. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, he has written for many publications, including the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Encyclopedia Americana, and The Dictionary of Virginia Biography. His books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette for Palgrave’s World Generals series; Flag: An American Biography; and Saving Monticello. His next book, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, a Life, will be published by Palgrave in June. A BIO board member, he lives in Middleburg, Va., and teaches U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College.

Katherine Flynn joined the Kneerim, Williams & Bloom Agency in 2008. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, she worked at the literary agency of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York. She then pursued a Ph.D. in history at Brown University. Prior to joining KW&B, she taught literature and composition, and worked in a rare book shop. Flynn represents history, biography, politics, current affairs, adventure, science, pop culture, and psychology. She particularly loves exciting narrative nonfiction, where the truth is more fascinating than anything else. She is open to anything that is well-written and contains a good, fresh story.

Dean King is the best-selling author of nine books, including Skeletons on the Zahara (2004), a Washington Post Book of the Year, and the critically acclaimed biography Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed. The Wall Street Journal called his latest book, The Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys: The True Story, “popular history the way it ought to be written.” King’s writing has appeared in Esquire, Men’s Journal, Granta, The New York Times, and other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, the BBC, and two History Channel special documentaries. A co-founder of the James River Writers, and a board member of the Library of Virginia Foundation, he lives in Richmond, Va.

Lauren Smythe is a literary agent at InkWell Management. Prior to joining InkWell in 2010, she worked in the literary department of William Morris Endeavor. Her interests are wide-ranging, but tend toward smart narrative nonfiction (narrative journalism, modern history, biography, cultural criticism, personal essay) and personality-driven practical nonfiction (cookbooks, fashion and style). Smythe’s authors include William Egginton, Ashley Gilbertson, Hal Niedzviecki, Kelsey Osgood, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Jacob Silverman, and Janine Wedel. She also works with the estate of M.F.K. Fisher. Smythe grew up in Indiana, attended New York University, and lives, predictably, in Brooklyn.

 

The Dark Side: Addressing the Unsavory Elements of a Subject’s Character

Moderator: Cathy Curtis is chair of the Program Committee for the 2014 BIO conference and a BIO board member. A former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, and recipient of a National Gallery of Art Critic’s Fellowship, she is a graduate of Smith College and the University of California, Berkeley. Curtis has worked as a copywriter and editor, written for art publications, and contributed entries to the Dictionary of American History (Scribner’s, 2002). Her biography of Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan will be published by Oxford University Press in May 2015.

Evelyn Barish has just published The Double Life of Paul de Man (Liveright /Norton), a  biography of the inventor of deconstruction  theory that reveals his concealed past as a collaborator in wartime Belgium and as a white-collar criminal who, exiled, penetrated the highest levels of American academic culture, becoming an  internationally celebrated “great man.”  She is the author of Emerson:  The Roots of Prophecy (winner of the Gauss Prize, 1989) and other books. An emerita  professor of English at the Graduate Center, CUNY, Barish is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Bryn Mawr and NYU.

Joshua Kendall, a freelance journalist, has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Slate. He has written biographies of the lexicographers Peter Mark Roget (Putnam, 2008), author of Roget’s Thesaurus, and Noah Webster (Putnam, 2011), author of Webster’s Dictionary. His most recent book is America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation (Grand Central, 2013), which profiles seven American icons, including Thomas Jefferson, Henry Heinz, Charles Lindbergh, and Estee Lauder. A graduate of Yale University, Kendall is an Associate Fellow of Yale’s Trumbull College.

Barbara Will is a professor of English at Dartmouth College, where she has taught since 1994. She received degrees from Yale University (B.A.), Bryn Mawr College (M.A.), and Duke University (Ph.D.), where she wrote her dissertation on genius and Gertrude Stein under the direction of Fredric Jameson. Her most recent book, Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy Dilemma, examines the close friendship between the great modernist writer Gertrude Stein and Bernard Faÿ, director of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and a Nazi collaborator during the Second World War. Will is writing a book on Samuel Beckett and the French Resistance.

 

Cultivating Readers & Blurb Writers

Moderator: Kate Buford is the author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf, 2010; paperback, University of Nebraska Press, 2012), an Editors’ Choice of The New York Times and recipient of awards from SABR and PFRA. Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf/Da Capo/Aurum UK; 2013 Knopf ebook edition) was chosen as a best book of 2000 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Buford has been published in The New York Times, Film Comment, Bluegrass Unlimited, History Now, and Readex. A former commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace, she is a member of PEN, the NYU Biographers Seminar, and BIO, and lives in Virginia.

Susan Rabiner was an editor for more than thirty years and currently runs Susan Rabiner Literary.  She is the co-author (with Alfred Fortunato) of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and get it Published. Two of the biographers she represents won the Pulitzer Prize for their work.

Abigail Santamaria’s first book—a biography of Joy Davidman, communist poet, film critic, and wife of C.S. Lewis—will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2015. Abigail holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City. 

Will Swift, Ph.D., is a historian, presidential biographer and a clinical psychologist. He has been writing about American and British leaders for more than twenty-five years. He is the author of The Roosevelts And The Royals And The Kennedys Amidst The Gathering Storm. Dr. Swift has been a featured speaker on CSPAN, on radio, and at many historical venues, including the FDR Library at Hyde Park and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. He is a founding board member of BIO. His website is www.willswift.com

 

Getting It Right: From the Proposal to the Last Word

Moderator: Anne Heller is a former magazine editor and writer. She is the author of Ayn Rand and the World She Made (Nan Talese Books, 2009/2010), a New York Times Notable Book, and is at work on a short biography of Hannah Arendt.

Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, best known for his biographies of political figures. He has also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, the Duff Cooper Prize, a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Bird is a contributing editor of The Nation magazine. His new book, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, will be published by Random House on May 20.

Neal Gabler is the author of three biographies. An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (1988) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity (1994) was named non-fiction book of the year by Time and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (2006) won a second Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named biography of the year by USA Today. Gabler’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholarship. He is working on a biography of Edward Kennedy.

John Matteson is a Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College in the City University of New York. He holds an A.B. in history from Princeton University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. His first book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The Lives of Margaret Fuller received the Ann M. Sperber Prize from Fordham University and was shortlisted for BIO’s inaugural Plutarch Prize. Matteson has just completed an annotated edition of Little Women for W. W. Norton and Company.

 

The Book Tour: Real and Virtual

Moderator: William Souder is the author of three books, including two biographies. Under a Wild Sky (2004) told the story of pioneer and bird artist John James Audubon, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (2012) was a New York Times Notable Book, and was named one of the ten best biographies of the year by Booklist and one of the twenty-five best nonfiction books of the year by Kirkus Reviews. Souder lives in Grant, Minnesota.

Brian Jay Jones is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jim Henson: The Biography (Ballantine, 2013) and Washington Irving: An American Original (Arcade, 2008). Prior to writing full-time, Brian spent two decades as a public policy analyst and speechwriter at all three levels of government, including nearly ten years in the U.S. Senate. He has served as a BIO board member since 2009, as its secretary in 2010-2011, and as vice president from 2011 to 2013. He lives in Maryland with his wife and daughter, and a very excitable dog. 

John Rosengren is an author whose books include Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes, The Fight of their Lives:  How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball’s Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption, and Blades of Glory. His articles have appeared in Men’s Journal, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated and Utne Reader, among other publications. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the American Society of Journalists & Authors, and BIO. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Maria and their two children.

John Taylor (“Ike”) Williams is a publishing lawyer and co-founder and director of the Kneerim, Williams & Bloom Agency, LLC, a literary and dramatic rights agency, with offices in Boston and New York. Authors he represents include Howard Gardner, Michael MacDonald, Joseph J. Ellis, E.O. Wilson, Frances Fitzgerald, Jeff Kinney, Richard Wilbur, Lawrence Tribe, Tim Berners-Lee, Charles Ogletree, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Nigel Hamilton, James MacGregor Burns, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. Williams also specializes in book-to-movie licenses. His law practice emphasizes publishing, film, intellectual property, and First Amendment litigation and entertainment law. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Harvard College.

 

Finding the Balance: The Life, the Context, the Work

Moderator: Marc Leepson is a journalist and historian, and the author of seven books. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, he has written for many publications, including the Washington Post, The New York Times, TheWall Street Journal, EncyclopediaAmericana, and TheDictionary of Virginia Biography. His books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette for Palgrave’s World Generals series; Flag: An American Biography; and Saving Monticello. His next book, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, a Life, will be published by Palgrave in June. A BIO board member, he lives in Middleburg, Va., and teaches U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College.

Ellen Brown is a freelance writer and co-author of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, an in-depth study of Mitchell’s life as an author and manager of a publishing empire. Brown, who lives in Richmond, Va., is working on a historical novel about an eccentric antebellum poet who claimed to have inspired “The Raven” and ruined his career trying to establish himself as Edgar Allan Poe’s biographer.

Daniel Mark Epstein’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly. He has received the Prix de Rome for his poetry and dramatic works. His first biography was Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson (1993). Nat King Cole was a 1999 New York Times Notable Book, and Epstein’s biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay was a New York Public Library Honoree (2001). The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, was named one of the best books of 2008 by The Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Sun-Times. Epstein’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Michael Gorra’s Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (2012) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in biography. Since 1985 he has taught at Smith College, where he is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English. Gorra’s earlier books include After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, and Rushdie (1997) and The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004). He lives in Northampton, Mass., with his wife and daughter, and is beginning a new book on William Faulkner and the Civil War.

 

The University Press and Biography

Moderator: Nigel Hamilton has written more then twenty works of biography. Monty, his three-volume life of Field Marshal Montgomery, won the Whitbread Prize for Biography and Templer Medal for Military History. JFK: Reckless Youth, was a New York Times bestseller and was made into an ABC-TV miniseries. In 2007, Harvard University Press published Biography: A Brief History, and in 2008, How To Do Biography: A Primer. In 2010, Yale University Press published American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents, From Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. Hamilton’s latest work is The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942.

Laura Davuli is associate editor, History, at Yale University Press, where she acquires in the history of the American West, Native American studies, slavery and abolition, and eighteenth-century studies.  She lives in New Haven.

Brian Halley is acquisitions editor for the University of Massachusetts Press, based at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After earning an M.A. in literature at the University of London, Halley started his publishing career assisting a literary agent at the Sayle Agency, in London. He then became an editor at Beacon Press, acquiring books in environmental studies, nature writing, LGBT issues, and social justice. At UMass Press, Halley started the Environmental History of the Northeast series; coordinates the Studies in Print Cultureand History of the Book and the American Popular Music series; and acquires in American Studies, environmental studies/history, urban studies, and regional books.

Steven P. Hull is an editor with the University Press of New England, at Dartmouth College. He helped create and launch UPNE’s new trade imprint, Fore Edge, to publish high-quality new work with commercial appeal in several nonfiction categories, including biography. Forthcoming titles include new biographies of Harry S. Truman, Paul Revere, Charles Ives, and Smithsonian Director and spy Dillon Ripley. This fall, UPNE published Confederate Bushwhacker, Jerome Loving’s biography of Mark Twain in the year 1885. Prior to joining UPNE, Hull was publisher of Justin, Charles & Co., a Boston independent trade press. 

 

What Happens After You Turn in Your Manuscript?

Moderator: Brian Jay Jones is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jim Henson: The Biography (Ballantine, 2013) and Washington Irving: An American Original (Arcade, 2008). Prior to writing full-time, Jones spent two decades as a public policy analyst and speechwriter at all three levels of government, including nearly ten years in the U.S. Senate. He has served as a BIO board member since 2009, as its secretary in 2010-2011, and as vice president from 2011 to 2013. He lives in Maryland with his wife and daughter, and a very excitable dog.

Lois Banner is a professor of history and gender studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of many books on women and gender, including American Beauty (Knopf, 1984), and four biographies, including Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle (Knopf, 2005), MM Personal: From the Private Archives of Marilyn Monroe (Abrams, 2011), and Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, a definitive biography of Marilyn Monroe (Bloomsbury, 2012). Banner is a past president of the American Studies Association and the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association. In 2005, she won the Bode-Pearson award for lifetime achievement from the American Studies Association.

Kate Buford is the author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf, 2010; paperback, University of Nebraska Press, 2012), an Editors’ Choice of The New York Times and recipient of awards from the SABR and the PFRA. Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf/Da Capo/Aurum UK; 2013 Knopf ebook edition) was chosen as a best book of 2000 by The New YorkTimes, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Buford has been published in The New YorkTimes, Film Comment, Bluegrass Unlimited, History Now, and Readex. A former commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace, she is a member of PEN, the NYU Biographers Seminar, and BIO. 

Marc Leepson is a journalist and historian, and the author of seven books. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, he has written for many publications, including the Washington Post, The New York Times, TheWall Street Journal, EncyclopediaAmericana, and TheDictionary of Virginia Biography. His books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette for Palgrave’s World Generals series; Flag: An American Biography; and Saving Monticello. His next book, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, a Life, will be published by Palgrave in June. A BIO board member, he lives in Middleburg, Va., and teaches U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College.

 

Archive to Endnotes

Moderator: William Souder is the author of three books, including two biographies. Under a Wild Sky (2004) told the story of pioneer and bird artist John James Audubon, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (2012) was a New York Times Notable Book, and was named one of the ten best biographies of the year by Booklist and one of the twenty-five best nonfiction books of the year by Kirkus Reviews. Souder lives in Grant, Minnesota.

Dean King is the best-selling author of nine books, including Skeletons on the Zahara (2004), a Washington Post Book of the Year, and the critically acclaimed biography Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed. The Wall Street Journal called his latest book, The Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys: The True Story, “popular history the way it ought to be written.” King’s writing has appeared in Esquire, Men’s Journal, Granta,The New York Times, and other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, the BBC, and two History Channel special documentaries. A co-founder of the James River Writers, and a board member of the Library of Virginia Foundation, he lives in Richmond, Va. 

Catherine Clinton earned her undergraduate degree in African American studies from Harvard and her master’s in American studies from the University of Sussex. She received her doctorate in history from Princeton in 1980. Clinton has taught at several American universities, including Brown, Wesleyan, and Harvard, and now holds a chair in U.S. history at Queen’s University Belfast. She has written and edited over two dozen books, including three biographies: Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars (2000); Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom (2004)—named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2004 by the Christian Science Monitor and the Chicago Tribune—and Mrs. Lincoln: A Life (2009). She is working on a biography of Scarlett O’Hara.

Heather Cole is the assistant curator of modern books and manuscripts and the curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library. She holds a B.A. in English from Miami University and master’s degrees in rare book librarianship and English from Indiana University.

 

Location, Location, Location: Writing About Place

Moderator: Natalie Dykstra is the author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award in nonfiction. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Long-Term Fellowship, a White House Historical Association Fellowship, and research grants from the Schlesinger Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society, which elected her a Fellow in 2011. Dykstra is an associate professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Mich. When classes are not in session, she lives with her husband in Waltham, Mass.

Paul Fisher is a biographer and cultural historian who has taught literature and history at Yale, Wesleyan, Boston University, and Harvard, and is now associate professor of American Studies at Wellesley College. His books include Artful Itineraries: European Art and American Careers in High Culture, 1865-1920 (Routledge, 2000), House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family (Henry Holt, 2008), and The Grand Affair: John Singer Sargent, His Patrons, and Sexuality in the Art World of the Belle Époque, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Eve LaPlante has published three biographies. American Jezebel tells the story of the colonial heretic and founding mother Anne Hutchinson. Salem Witch Judge, about the 1692 judge who became an abolitionist and feminist, won the Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. NPR named Marmee & Louisa, LaPlante’s groundbreaking biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, a top ten book of the year. LaPlante is also the author of Seized, a narrative portrait of a common brain disorder that can alter personality, and the editor of My Heart Is Boundless, the first compilation of the writings of Abigail May Alcott.

Carl Rollyson is working on A Real Character: Walter Brennan and the World of Hollywood Players, the third volume of his New England trilogy, which includes Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography and American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath. His other books include Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, an updated edition of Marilyn Monroe: Life of the Actress (available June 1), and two studies of biography, A Higher Form of Cannibalism: Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography and Biography: A User’s Guide. His reviews of biography have been collected in Reading Biography and American Biography.

 

Diary of a Biographer: How Authors Led Their Lives While Writing Someone Else’s

Moderator: Deirdre David is the author, most recently of Olivia Manning: A Woman at War (Oxford University Press, 2013). Before publication of her first biography, Fanny Kemble: A Performed Life (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), she published several books dealing with Victorian literature and women’s writing and edited The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (currently in a second edition). She is now at work on a biography of the British novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson.

Betty Boyd Caroli has written about obscure subjects (Today’s Immigrants: Their Stories; Immigrants Who Returned Home; Italian Repatriation from the United States, 1900-1914) and about world-famous Americans (The Roosevelt Women: A Portrait in Five Generations; First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama; and a forthcoming book on Lady Bird Johnson.) But whether Caroli is interviewing in Southern Italy or digging through archives in Texas, she finds that her writer’s diary varies little. The same rules apply, as does the need to break them.

Irwin F. Gellman is a scholar, professor, author, speaker, and businessman. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore, he received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Maryland and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He has taught at Indiana University, the University of California, Irvine, and Chapman University. Among his books: Roosevelt and Batista: Good Neighbor Diplomacy in Cuba, 1933-1945; Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and Sumner Welles (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize); The Contender: Richard Nixon: The Congress Years, 1946 to 1952; and The President and His Apprentice: Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, 1952-1961 (due in 2014). Gellman is a visiting professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn.

Diane Jacobs began her career writing film criticism and journalism for The New York Times, Soho Weekly News, the Village Voice, and the Washington Post while teaching as an adjunct at Dartmouth, Columbia, and Fairfield College. Her first two books (Hollywood Renaissance, Delta Press, 1977, and …but we need the eggs: The Magic of Woody Allen, St. Martins, 1982) were film criticism. Turning to biography, she received an NEH grant for Christmas In July: The Life And Art of Preston Sturges (University of California Press), a New York Times Notable Book of 1992. Her next book was Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (Simon & Shuster, 2001). She lives with her daughter and dog in Greenwich Village.

 

 Getting the Family On Board

Moderator: Beverly Gray, who once developed one hundred seventy low-budget features for B-movie maven Roger Corman, is the author of the best-selling Roger Corman: An Unauthorized Biography of the Godfather of Indie Filmmaking. Tastefully retitled Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers, it is now available (as both e-book and paperback) in an updated and unexpurgated third edition. Gray has also published Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon . . . and Beyond. Her blog, Beverly in Movieland (www.beverlyinmovieland.com), covers movies, moviemaking, and growing up Hollywood-adjacent.

Brian Jay Jones is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jim Henson: The Biography (Ballantine, 2013) and Washington Irving: An American Original (Arcade, 2008). Prior to writing full-time, Jones spent two decades as a public policy analyst and speechwriter at all three levels of government, including nearly ten years in the U.S. Senate. He has served as a BIO board member since 2009, as its secretary in 2010-2011, and as vice president from 2011 to 2013. He lives in Maryland with his wife and daughter, and a very excitable dog.

Will Swift, Ph.D., is a historian, presidential biographer and a clinical psychologist. He has been writing about American and British leaders for more than twenty-five years. He is the author of The Roosevelts And The Royals And The Kennedys Amidst The Gathering Storm. Dr. Swift has been a featured speaker on CSPAN, on radio, and at many historical venues, including the FDR Library at Hyde Park and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. He is a founding board member of BIO. His website is www.willswift.com.

Evan Thomas is the author of eight books: Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Struggle to Save the World (2012); The War Lovers (2010); New York Times bestsellers   Sea of Thunder (2006) and John Paul Jones (2003); Robert Kennedy (2000); The Very Best Men, about the early CIA (1995); The Man to See: The Life of Edward Bennett Williams (1991); and The Wise Men (with Walter Isaacson, 1986). He is Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Between 2003 and 2007, he was a visiting professor at Harvard and Princeton, teaching writing and journalism courses.

 

Market Trends for Biography

Moderator: Carl Rollyson is working on A Real Character: Walter Brennan and the World of Hollywood Players, the third volume of his New England trilogy, which includes Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography and American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath. His other books include Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, an updated edition of Marilyn Monroe: Life of the Actress (available June 1), and two studies of biography, A Higher Form of Cannibalism: Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography and Biography: A User’s Guide. His reviews of biography have been collected in Reading Biography and American Biography.

Katherine Flynn joined the Kneerim, Williams & Bloom Agency in 2008. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, she worked at the literary agency of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York. She then pursued a Ph.D. in history at Brown University. Prior to joining KW&B, she taught literature and composition, and worked in a rare book shop. Flynn represents history, biography, politics, current affairs, adventure, science, pop culture, and psychology. She particularly loves exciting narrative nonfiction, where the truth is more fascinating than anything else. She is open to anything that is well-written and contains a good, fresh story.

Colleen Mohyde has been a partner in the Doe Coover Agency in Boston for twenty-two years. Among the biographies she represents are Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Gave America The Joy of Cooking by Anne Mendelson and American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson. Forthcoming biographies she represents include: The Last Love Song, A Biography of Joan Didion by Tracy Daugherty; an untitled biography of Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau by Steve Weinberg; She Will Bring Us Home: The Life of Dorothy Boulding Ferebee by Diane Kiesel; and an untitled biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver by Eileen McNamara.

 

What Editors Actually Do (and Don’t Do)

Moderator: Greg Daugherty is director of content and editorial at Pace University in New York City. He previously held senior level editing positions at Time Inc., Reader’s Digest, Consumer Reports, and other magazine publishers. As a freelancer, he has written for publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian and Smithsonian.com. His books include You Can Write for Magazines (Writer’s Digest Books).

 Peter Joseph is executive editor at Thomas Dunne Books, where he edits a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. His nonfiction list includes biography, memoir, narrative nonfiction, science, nature, history, politics, and humor. A few examples include Lisa Rogak’s Edgar Award-finalist Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King; Mikey Walsh’s memoir Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies; and Stephen Michael Shearer’s Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star.

Wendy Strothman founded a literary agency in 2003 after a career as publisher and editor, beginning at the University of Chicago Press. After running Beacon Press for twelve years, she oversaw the Trade & Reference Division of Houghton Mifflin, where she edited books with Philip Roth, Arthur Schlesinger, and John Kenneth Galbraith. As agent, she represents historians such as David Blight, who is finishing a biography of Frederick Douglass; John Stauffer, who is writing a biography of Charles Sumner; and Martha Sandweiss, whose book on Clarence King was an NBCC finalist. Strothman is based in Boston and New York.

Keith Wallman is an editor at Lyons Press, where he acquires in the categories of biography, American history, politics, crime, and sports. In biography and autobiography, his editorial work includes Best Fact Crime Edgar Award finalist Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series; artist LeRoy Neiman’s autobiography All Told; the book Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero; and John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America’s First Celebrity Criminal.

 

Making Modernism: A Conversation Between Biographers

Linda Leavell’s first biography, Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, appeared last October. It has been favorably reviewed in the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and other periodicals. She is also the author of Marianne Moore and the Visual Arts: Prismatic Color. Leavell taught American literature at Oklahoma State University for twenty-four years before moving with her husband to the Arkansas Ozarks, where she volunteers as a teacher and museum guide while working on her next project, a group biography of the Stieglitz circle.

Megan Marshall is the author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters, winner of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She teaches archival research and nonfiction narrative in the MFA program at Emerson College, where she is an associate professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing. She is at work on a short biography of Elizabeth Bishop for the Amazon Icons series.

 

MASTER CLASSES

The Craft of Interviewing

John Brady is a veteran magazine editor (Writer’s Digest, Boston magazine), biographer, and journalism instructor who has conducted hundreds of interviews. His books include The Craft of Interviewing (Random House), The Interviewer’s Handbook (The Writer Books), The Craft of Screenwriting (Simon & Schuster), and Bad Boy: The Life & Politics of Lee Atwater (Addison Wesley/Perseus). He has taught writing and editing at the University of Missouri, Boston University, and the Scripps School of Journalism (Ohio University). Other credits include a Playboy interview with Jerry Springer and the last interview of Custer biographer Evan Connell. Brady is working on a biography of Clay Felker, founding editor of New York magazine.

Biography Workshop: Writing the Proposal

Susan Rabiner was an editor for more than thirty years and currently runs Susan Rabiner Literary. She is the co-author (with Alfred Fortunato) of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and get it Published. Two of the biographers she represents won the Pulitzer Prize for their work.

Promoting Your Biography: Hiring a Publicist or Going It Alone

Carl Rollyson is working on A Real Character: Walter Brennan and the World of Hollywood Players, the third volume of his New England trilogy, which includes Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography and American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath. His other books include Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, an updated edition of Marilyn Monroe: Life of the Actress (available June 1), and two studies of biography, A Higher Form of Cannibalism: Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography and Biography: A User’s Guide. His reviews of biography have been collected in Reading Biography and American Biography.

Self-Publishing for New and Re-Released Titles

Beverly Gray, who once developed one hundred seventy low-budget features for B-movie maven Roger Corman, is the author of the best-selling Roger Corman: An Unauthorized Biography of the Godfather of Indie Filmmaking. Tastefully retitled Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers, it is now available (as both e-book and paperback) in an updated and unexpurgated third edition. Gray has also published Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon . . . and Beyond. Her blog, Beverly in Movieland (www.beverlyinmovieland.com), covers movies, moviemaking, and growing up Hollywood-adjacent.

Miral Sattar is the founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch (bibliocrunch.com), a literary services marketplace matching authors with high-quality editors, proofreaders, designers, and other professionals to bring new books and apps to market. She has worked in the media industry for eleven years, most recently at Time Inc., where she launched several digital initiatives, including an iPad and mobile site, mobile apps, a video and podcast channel, blogs, and SEO. Sattar’s writing has been featured on PBS and CNN, and in Time magazine and the New York Daily News. She holds an M.S. in publishing (digital and print media) from NYU and a B.S. from Columbia University in electrical engineering and computer science.