What’s Love Got to Do with It? A Passionate Biographer Talks about Getting to Know Her Subject

By Dona Munker, New York Correspondent Every serious biographer knows that only the most intense engagement with a subject can compel the writer to spend years in the archives and construct a narrative that has the energy it needs to carry both writer and reader across the finish line. Which is why, as Janice P. Nimura suggested to an audience at the City University of New York Graduate Center in October, biographers always long to… Read More »

Ileene Smith Receives 2019 Editorial Excellence Award

Ileene Smith, winner of BIO’s 2019 Editorial Excellence Award, received her award on November 13 at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Smith has been vice president and executive editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux since 2012. She is also editorial director of the Jewish Lives series published by Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation. Smith has previously been the recipient of the… Read More »

Hermione Lee Wins 2020 BIO Award

By Justin Spring Dame Hermione Lee, Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford, is the winner of the 11th annual BIO Award, a prize bestowed yearly by the Biographers International Organization to a distinguished colleague who has made a major contribution to the advancement of the art and craft of biography. Lee will receive the honor on May 16, at the 2020 BIO Conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New… Read More »

BIO, Other Organizations Issue Statement on Fair Use

By Kai Bird Perhaps a biographer’s worst nightmare is to be told by his or her publisher’s lawyers that he or she cannot quote from all those colorful diaries and letters and must instead rewrite his or her manuscript so as to only paraphrase or summarize these sources. This happened to Ian Hamilton in 1986, when he was sued by the subject of his biography, J. D. Salinger. Random House compelled Hamilton to rewrite his… Read More »

A Tribute to James Atlas (1949–2019)

By Anne C. Heller He could be seen among gatherings of biographers wherever we meet: at festivals and symposia, on prize committees, at literary parties, leading panels of his distinguished friends in explorations of their craft, gallantly introducing new biographers to colleagues and readers with a keen and generous word of praise. His standards were old fashioned, unusually high, and deeply literary, and his praise will be remembered and cherished by the unknowable number of… Read More »

First-time Biographers, Apply Now for the Rowley Prize!

Biographers International Organization (BIO) is now accepting applications for the Hazel Rowley Prize. The prize rewards a biography book proposal from a first-time biographer with: funding (a $2,000 award); a careful reading from an established agent; one year’s membership in BIO (along with registration to the annual conference); and publicity for the author and project through the BIO website, The Biographer’s Craft newsletter, etc. The prize is a way for BIO—an organization of biographers, agents,… Read More »

Sign Up for the New BIO Quarterly Newsletter

Have you signed up to receive The Latest News in Biography quarterly newsletter? You can read the premiere September 2019 issue here. We hope you will share the newsletter with your colleagues and readers. Please subscribe here. Do you have biography news you would like to share for future newsletters? Let us know!… Read More »

Ileene Smith Wins Editorial Excellence Award

Ileene Smith is the winner of the 2019 Editorial Excellence Award, given each year by BIO to an outstanding editor, from nominations submitted by BIO members. Smith has been vice president and executive editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux since 2012. She is also editorial director of the Jewish Lives series published by Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation. Smith has previously been the recipient of the PEN/Roger Klein Award, the Tony… Read More »

Announcing BIO Foundation: Our New, Independent 501(c)(3)

By Marlene Trestman, Marc Leepson, and Louise Knight Fulfilling BIO’s longstanding plan, and as approved by BIO’s general membership at the May 2018 annual meeting, we—the members of the aptly named Ad Hoc Committee to Establish a 501(c)(3)—are thrilled to announce the creation of Biographers International Organization Foundation. As an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, BIO Foundation is authorized by the IRS to directly accept tax-deductible charitable contributions to fund our ongoing work preserving and promoting… Read More »

Morgan Voeltz Swanson Wins Mayborn Fellowship

Morgan Voeltz Swanson won the Biography Fellowship awarded annually at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, held in July at the University of North Texas. The fellowship is cosponsored by BIO and BIO co-founder James McGrath Morris. With her fellowship, Swanson receives a two- to three-week residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and mentoring from Morris during her stay. In addition, she will receive complimentary admission to the 2020 BIO Conference and a $500 stipend. During… Read More »

Video Highlights from the 2019 BIO Conference

Here are some highlights from the 2019 BIO Conference, held in New York City on May 17-19. You can see the morning plenary with David Remnick, Stacy Schiff, and Judith Thurman, and Nigel Hamilton introducing 2019 BIO Award winner James McGrath Morris, who gave the keynote speech.… Read More »