The following are the election statements and biographies submitted by candidates for the BIO Board of Directors, for seven seats with two year terms, running from 2015-2017. These statements are presented alphabetically, by candidate’s last name.
Oline Eaton is a first-time biographer in the final throes of writing a cultural study of the life of Jackie Onassis, a project she has been dreaming about since she was 12. She lives in London and cares entirely too much and thinks entirely too deeply about celebrities. As former chair of BIO’s Social Networking Committee and a social media maven herself (@ohlighn, www.findingjackie.com), Oline hopes to assist in increasing membership and visibility, particularly online, by promoting BIO and the work of its members. She is also interested in developing tangible benefits, so that wherever they are in their careers, all of BIOs members will feel they are gaining something of value from the organization that they cannot get anywhere else. Oline has been a BIO member since 2011, and is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a member of the board.
My first biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made, was named one of the best books of 2009 by The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New Criterion, Library Journal, Time magazine, the Daily Beast, and others. My new book, Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times, will be published as part of James Atlas’s Icons series by Amazon.com and Harcourt Houghton Mifflin in August, 2015. I have also been a fiction editor and a general editor and writer for The Antioch Review, Esquire, Lear’s, Mademoiselle, and Vanity Fair, and was executive editor of the magazine development group at Condé Nast Publications. Currently, I am serving as an adjunct professor of literature at Bennington College.
An active member of BIO from the beginning. I served as a founding board member from 2010 until 2012, led a membership campaign in 2011, helped to initiate the Rowley Prize for the best proposal for a first-time biographer, and served on this year’s conference program committee. If elected, I’d like to work to expand BIO’s membership outreach and make our many collective resources more widely available and more useful to members.
Following four years as press assistant to a U.S. Senator, and two years as the researcher for the editorial page of The Washington Post, I began full-time freelance writing. I’ve written several contemporary biographies, which I’ve been fortunate enough see as number one on the New York Times best seller list. My subjects have included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, the House of Windsor, The Bush family, and Oprah Winfrey. In the last two years I wrote Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of The Kennedys and Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington.
My articles have been published in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, Ladies Home Journal, The New Republic, McCall’s, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The American Scholar.
I believe BIO is crucial to biographers because it provides a network for those of us who must combine the disciplines of journalism, historical research, and narrative non-fiction to tell life stories in a competitive market place. By bringing together people with similar professional commitments, BIO provides a support system for work that requires a great deal of isolation. We’re all going to be better helping each other and so I’ll do whatever I can to help BIO thrive.
An award-winning freelance journalist, I have written for numerous national newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week. I am also the author of three biographies. My books on the wordsmiths, Peter Mark Roget, author of the legendary Thesaurus and Noah Webster, author of America’s first dictionary, were both New York Times Editor’s Choice selections. I am currently working on a group biography of U. S. Presidents entitled First Dads: Fatherhood, the Presidency and the Arc of American History, which will be released by Grand Central in 2016.
I have been a board member of BIO for two years, during which I have served on both the program committee and the Plutarch Committee.
Like the publishing industry in general, the field of biography currently faces a daunting set of challenges. But there are also opportunities. In a digital culture where the printed word is increasingly seen as a relic, BIO can play a vital role in helping biographers around the world redefine how to research and tell life stories. We are also uniquely situated to build bridges between storytellers working in all types of media, including film and TV.
My eighth book, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life, was published in 2014. My next biography will focus on former Army Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler, best known for “The Ballad of The Green Berets.” My other books include Lafayette: Idealist General, Saving Monticello and Flag: An American Biography.
After eleven years as a staff writer at Congressional Quarterly, I have been freelancing since 1986. My work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Smithsonian and Preservation magazines. I’ve contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia Americana, and Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, and have appeared on CBS This Morning Saturday, The Today Show, History Detectives, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition. I am an adjunct professor of U.S. History at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Va.
I was elected to the BIO Board of Directors in 2013. Last year the board appointed me as Treasurer of the organization. Being on the board has been a rewarding experience, especially working with a terrific group of accomplished, dedicated board members. It would be an honor to be re-elected to the Board in 2015.
Since I joined BIO in 2011, I have participated in conference panels on choosing your subject and on group biography. I am now serving on the program committee which is planning the June 2015 Washington DC conference where I will be coaching biographers. In addition, I’m a member of the Gotham Writer’s Group, a local offshoot of the national BIO organization.
As the author of four biographies, I’ve gone the eclectic route, picking subjects ranging from Alan Greenspan to Frederick Law Olmsted. My latest, Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians (Da Capo), is my first foray into group biography. It was chosen as the outstanding biography of 2014 by the Victorian Society of New York, and was also selected as one of the year’s best books by the Kansas City Star. I’m frequently called upon to give speeches, especially about Olmsted, a vitally important historical figure whose influence is still felt across the nation. A 1987 graduate of Rice University in Houston, Texas, I live with my wife and twin sons in Forest Hills Gardens, a landmark NYC neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
As a biographer and a professor of anglophone literatures at Aix-Marseille University, I am striving to develop biographical studies as an academic discipline on an international level. It would be beneficial for biographers to benefit from a stronger academic transmission belt in which more master’s degrees and doctoral theses were devoted to their works, and where the art of biography was more resolutely taught as a branch of creative writing.
I’ve published biographies on Ted Hughes, Charles Darwin, Victoria, Elizabeth II, Elizabeth I, and am currently commissioned to write a multibiography of the Victorians for Payot-Rivages. I am working on the project of biography of George Clemenceau for the American reading public.
As a member of the BIO Board of Directors, I would work on biography in translation, using my contacts with French publishers to convince them to publish French versions of the best American biographies, and vice versa with American publishers. This kind of work would have to be backed up by seminars in the annual BIO Conference on the translatability of biographies, which greatly depends on the chosen subjects, as well as writing style. I hope to contribute to the international vocation of BIO, by serving as a linchpin between the French and American markets.