Biography Beyond Borders Panelists

JAMES ATLAS is the author of Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet and Bellow: A Biography. His new book, The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale, about his adventures in the trade, will be published by Pantheon in August 2017.

BETTY BOYD CAROLI has published three books dealing with the role that unelected women have played in American politics and government: The Roosevelt Women; First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama; and Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage that Made a

ANNE DE COURCY is the biographer of – among others – Diana Mosley and Lord Snowdon. Her social histories include The Fishing Fleet, 1939 The Last Season, and Margot at War: Love and Betrayal in Downing Street – the story of what really went on in No. 10 during World War I. She is currently working on The Husband-Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York, to be published next year. She has spoken or lectured at locations ranging from country bookshops to the Victoria and Albert Museum; and makes occasional television appearances. She has been Chairman of the Biographers’ Club for the past two years.

NATALIE DYKSTRA is the author of Clover Adams:  A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award.  She is the recipient of a NEH Fellowship and is Professor of English at Hope College.  Her next book is a biography of the art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner.  

ROBERT DOUGLAS-FAIRHURST is Professor of English Literature at Oxford and a Fellow of Magdalen College. Most recent books are Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist, and The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland.

GAYLE FELDMAN is the author of a cancer memoir, You Don’t Have to Be Your Mother (1994)and a study of prize-winning and bestselling books, Best and Worst of Times: The Changing Business of Trade Books (2003), the latter completed during an NAJP fellowship at the Columbia Journalism School. She is under contract to Random House for a biography of its co-founder Bennett Cerf, and has just been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar fellowship to fund its completion. Cerf was known to virtually every American during his lifetime; he is unknown to most under the age of sixty now, thus both well-known and little-known. She is New York correspondent of The Bookseller; for many years was an editor at Publishers Weekly; is a founding board member of BIO; and is on the steering committee of the NYU Biography Seminar.    

REBECCA FRASER is the author of a biography of Charlotte Bronte that has been continuously in print for the past 28 years. Other works include The Story of Britain. Her new book, The Mayflower (November 2017 St Martin’s Press and Chatto and Windus in the UK) a bipartite biography of Mayflower settler Edward Winslow and his son Josiah has proved challenging. Both Winslows were governors of Plymouth colony but personal information has been hard to retrieve.

ANNE C. HELLER is the author of Ayn Rand and the World She Made, published by Nan A. Talese, and Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times. She is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities, a member of the board of directors of the NYU Biography Seminar, and a founding board member of Biographers International Organization. She has been a visiting professor of literature at Bennington College. She is at work on a biography of Ashraf Pahlavi, the twin sister of the Shah of Iran.

DENNIS KERSTEN teaches in the English Department of Radboud University, the Netherlands. His dissertation, Travels with Fiction in the Field of Biography (2011) deals with the fictionalisation of authors’ lives in contemporary biofiction. Together with Professor Maarten Steenmeijer (Radboud University) he is exploring the possibilities for an international research project about autobiographical writing by rock stars.

CARLA KAPLAN is the Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University and the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a Guggenheim, a fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers and, currently, an NEH “Public Scholar” fellowship for her biography of Jessica Mitford.  Previous books include Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance and Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (both New York Times Notable books) as well as numerous edited books.

ROBERT LACEY is the biographer of such well-known figures as Henry Ford, Grace Kelly, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth II — and of such lesser known figures as Meyer Lansky, the gambler and gangster, and Eileen Ford, creator of the Ford fashion modelling agency.

ZACHARY LEADER is Professor of English Literature at the University of Roehampton. He is the author of Reading Blake’s SongsWriter’s BlockRevision and Romantic Authorship and The Life of Kingsley Amis a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Among the books he has edited are The Letters of Kingsley AmisOn Modern British FictionPercy Bysshe Shelley: The Major Works (with Michael O’Neill) and On Life-Writing. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and General Editor of the forthcoming Oxford History of Life-Writing, a seven volume series published by OUP.

ANDREW LOWNIE is a literary agent, a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and President of the Biographers Club. His books include lives of John Buchan, Guy Burgess and a forthcoming joint biography of Lord and Lady Mountbatten.

JANA WOHLMUTH MARKUPOVA is a Ph.D. candidate at Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Humanities and doctoral researcher at Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute for Contemporary History. She is the author of a forthcoming historical biography From Puzuk to Sakateka. Ivan M. Havel (1938–1989), eminent Czech dissident, philosopher and scientist, brother of Vaclav Havel. Jana is currently at work on her dissertation: a biography of Hugo Vavrecka, Czechoslovak statesman and industrialist, grandfather of Vaclav and Ivan Havel.

IWAN MORGAN is Professor of US Studies and Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History at University College London.  He is also a Fellow of Oxford University’s Rothermere American Institute.  He was chair of the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) from 2007 to 2013 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the British Association of American Studies in 2014 in recognition of his contribution to the discipline over the course of his career.  His books include:  The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush (winner of the Richard E. Neustadt Book Prize for 2009); Nixon; and the recently published Reagan: American Icon.

JAMES McGRATH MORRIS is the author of several biographies, including Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, which was a New York Times bestseller and Editor’s Choice and was selected for the Benjamin Hooks National Book Award that recognizes annually the best book on civil rights history. His other works include Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power, and The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism as well as Kindle Singles Revolution by Murder and the Radio Operator. His next book, The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War will be published in March of 2017. He was the founding editor of the monthly Biographer’s Craft and has served as both the executive director and president of Biographers International Organization (BIO). Morris lives in Tesuque, New Mexico.

JOANNY MOULIN is Professor of English Literature at Aix-Marseille University. He has founded The Biography Society (, devoted to the promotion and development of biography studies as an academic field of research on an international basis. He is also the author of five biographies.

CATHERINE REEF has written more than forty nonfiction books for young people and adults, many of them biographies. They include the highly acclaimed Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life (Clarion, 2014), The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (Clarion, 2012), and the forthcomingFlorence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse (Clarion, 2016). Her work frequently receives starred reviews and appears on year-end “best” lists. It has earned her the Sydney Taylor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries, the Joan G. Sugarman Children’s Book Award, and Jefferson Cup, Golden Kite, and National Jewish Book Award honors.

HARRIET REISEN is the author of Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (Holt: 2009) and producer-writer of the film of the same title for PBS American Masters. She is producer-librettist-lyricist for her theatrical work-in-progress, On the Cover of Time: A Memoir with Songs, which had its second workshop performance last month. She lives in New York City.

JANE RIDLEY is Professor of History at Buckingham University where she runs an MA course in Biography. She is the biographer of the Young Disraeli, Edwin Lutyens and King Edward VII. She recently published a brief life of Queen Victoria in the Penguin Monarchs series, and she is currently working on a joint biography of King George V and Queen Mary.

ANNE BOYD RIOUX is Professor of English at the University of New Orleans and a two-time National Endowment For the Humanities Fellow. She has written or edited four books, including the biography Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist, published by W. W. Norton last spring. Her next work is a biography of the novel Little Women, slated for publication in 2018.

CARL ROLLYSON, Professor of Journalism, Baruch College, The City University of New York, is the author of Confessions of a Serial Biographer.

MAX SAUNDERS is Director of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Professor of English and Co-Director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London. He is the author of Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (Oxford University Press 2010); and has edited several volumes of Ford’s writings. In 2013 he was awarded an Advanced Grant from the ERC for a 5-year collaborative project on Digital Life Writing called ‘Ego-Media’.

ANNE SEBBA is a biographer, historian and author of eleven books who lectures to a variety of audiences in the US and UK. Anne started her working career at the BBC in the Arabic services, despite speaking no Arabic, and then joined Reuters as a foreign correspondent. She is an occasional broadcaster – she presented a BBC R3 documentary about the pianist Harriet Cohen and for Radio 4 the documentary ‘Who was Joyce Hatto?’ – and regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies of Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson. The latter, published as That Woman, was an international bestseller, proving that the world is full of people dying to know what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. Her latest book is a history of Paris between 1939-49 through women’s eyes published in 2016 as Les Parisiennes: How the women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940’s which has already been optioned for a TV multi part series. Anne is a former chair of Britain’s 9,000 strong Society of Authors.

WILL SWIFT is the president of the Biographers International Organization. He is the author of The Roosevelts and the Royals: Franklin and Eleanor, the King and Queen of England and the Friendship that Changed History; The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm: A Thousand Days in London, 1938-1940; and Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage which was shortlisted for the Plutarch Award for best biography of 2014.

MARYAM THIRRIARD is a doctoral student and assistant lecturer in English literature at Aix-Marseille University, France. Her research project focuses on the New Biography movement as it developed in England in the 1920s and 1930s, under the authorship of Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Harold Nicolson and André Maurois. She is also a member of the Biography Society board.

AMANDA VAILL is the author, most recently, of Hotel Florida: Truth Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, which has been (or will be) published in 11 countries. Previous work includes Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the screenplay for the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning documentary Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, and the best-selling Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy – A Lost Generation Love Story, which was short-listed for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. A former publishing executive (and editor of biographies of Katherine Mansfield, Irving Berlin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Orson Welles, among others), she is currently researching a biography of the Schuyler sisters, wife and sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton.

QUINCY WHITNEY was the primary cultural news reporter for the Boston Sunday Globe New Hampshire Weekly for fourteen years. American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins—the Art and Science of the Violin (2016) is her first biography.  Her Oxford University Press Hutchins essays appear in the 2013 Grove Dictionary of Music and the 2016 American National Biography. Whitney was featured on American NPR Science Friday with Ira  She will also be featured in the 2016 autumn newsletter of the British Violin Makers Association. Whitney is a Eugene O’Neill Critic Fellow; a Salzburg Seminar Fellow; a Metropolitan Museum of Art Fellow; and a 2013 Hosking Houses Trust Fellow (UK).

SONJA D. WILLIAMS is the author of Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom (University of Illinois Press, 2015). Durham was a versatile and pioneering African American broadcast dramatist, journalist and activist. Williams has served as a journalist, an international media trainer and an award-winning radio documentary writer/producer. She also is a Professor in the Howard University Department of Media, Journalism, and Film in Washington, DC.