The Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship

In honor of the work of Robert and Ina Caro, Biographers International Organization has set up an annual research and travel fellowship. BIO members with a work in progress can apply to receive funding for research trips to archives or to important settings in their subject’s lives. This fellowship is a reflection of BIO’s ongoing commitment to support authors in writing beautifully contextualized and tenaciously researched biographies.

2018

Natalie Dykstra
Marina Harss

“[I]f the place, the setting, played a crucial role in shaping the character’s feelings, drives, motivations, insecurities, then by describing the place well enough, the author will have succeeded in bringing the reader closer to an understanding of the character.” –Robert Caro

In honor of the work of Robert and Ina Caro, Biographers International Organization has set up an annual research and travel fellowship. BIO members with a work in progress can apply to receive funding for research trips to archives or to important settings in their subject’s lives. This fellowship is a reflection of BIO’s ongoing commitment to support authors in writing beautifully contextualized and tenaciously researched biographies.

By their own example, the Caros have taught us the crucial importance of depicting a sense of place in delineating character.

“The greatest of books,” Robert Caro said in his keynote speech at the 2011 BIO Conference in Washington, “are books with places you can see in your mind’s eye.” He cited these examples of great writing about setting:

  • the deck of the Pequod, in Moby Dick, when the sailors haul whale parts aboard the ship to melt down for oil.
  • the battlefield at Borodino, in War and Peace, as Napoleon looks down from a hill and has to decide whether to send his Old Guard forward into battle.
  • Miss Havisham’s room in Great Expectations, with the  wedding cake covered with cobwebs, in which she lived out her life after she was jilted.

The Caro Research/Travel Fellowship is open to submission by BIO members. In the spring of 2019 BIO will award either one $5,000 or two $2,500 fellowships, based on the judgment of the panel of three judges: Deirdre David, Caroline Fraser, and Marc Leepson. The application deadline is February 1, 2019.

The Fellowship is restricted to support of works of biography, e.g., not of history, autobiography, or memoir.

Please email us the following as a PDF file no longer than three pages in length:

1) Your name

2) The title of your current project
   – include details of its current status, e.g., whether it is under contract to a publisher or whether it is under development as a proposal.

3) A brief summary of the project

 4) The anticipated result of receipt of a travel fellowship
   – explain whether the fellowship will lead to completion of a proposal, a chapter in your biography, or completion of the work.

 5) Details of where you wish to travel and why
   – explain how such travel is relevant to completion of your project, whether a proposal or a biography in progress. If you wish to travel to places where your subject lived or worked, please provide relevant details. Please be as specific as possible about how traveling to a particular location will enable your biography to develop the importance of a sense of place.

6) Details of your proposed budget
   – you should provide an estimated cost of travel and of possible housing.

7) An abbreviated c.v.
   – providing details of your education, published books (if any), and current employment (if relevant).

Please submit your application to:

Deirdre David
Vice-President, Biographers’ International Organization
ddavid@temple.edu