2020 BIO Conference – Biographies of Participants

Richard Aldous, the Eugene Meyer Professor of British History and Literature at Bard College, is the author and editor of 11 books, including The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. DisraeliReagan and Thatcher; and, most recently, a biography of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. He writes for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The American Interest, where he is a contributing editor.

Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, political analyst, documentary filmmaker, columnist, television producer, and radio host. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers: The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies (2013), The Promise: President Obama, Year One (2010), and The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006), also one of The Times’ Notable Books of the year. Since 1996, Alter has been a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. In 2019, he co-produced and co-directed the HBO documentary, Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists. His new book, His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life, will be published in October.

Debby Applegate’s first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Her second book, Madam: The Notorious Life and Times of Polly Adler, the first biography of the infamous Manhattan madam of the Jazz Age, is forthcoming from Doubleday in the fall of 2021.

Gaiutra Bahadur is an award-winning writer, critic, and journalist. Her book Coolie Woman, a personal history of Indian indenture in the Caribbean, was shortlisted for Britain’s Orwell Prize for artful political writing in 2014. A journalism professor at Rutgers-Newark, and a former newspaper reporter, she writes for The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The Nation and Dissent, among other publications. Her work has been recognized with literary residencies at the MacDowell Artists Colony and Italy’s Bellagio Center and fellowships from Harvard, the British Library, and the New York Public Library.

Blake Bailey is working on the authorized biography of Philip Roth. He’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, winner of the National Book Critic Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Deirdre Bair received the National Book Award for her biography of Samuel Beckett.  Her biography of Simone de Beauvoir was a New York Times Best Book of the year.  It and her biography of Carl Jung were finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  Her biographies of Anais Nin, Saul Steinberg, and Al Capone were New York Times Notable Books.  Her most recent book is the memoir, Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me.

Molly Ball is Time magazine’s national political correspondent and a CNN political analyst. A frequent television and radio commentator, she formerly covered U. S. politics for The Atlantic and Politico. She is the winner of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize and the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, among others, and lives near Washington, D.C. Her biography of the speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi, will be published by Henry Holt in early May.

Adam Bernstein has spent 20 years putting the “post” in The Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person.”  Among the obituaries Bernstein has written, his favorites are those of Edward von Kloberg III, the lobbyist for dictators and despots and who embraced the slogan “shame is for sissies,” and the filmmaker Billy Wilder, who wooed his future wife with the line, “I’d worship the ground you walked on, if only you lived in a better neighborhood.”

Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography. He is currently working on a biography of President Jimmy Carter.

David W. Blight is Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others.

Rich Blint is assistant professor of literature in the Department of Literary Studies, and director of the undergraduate minor in race and ethnicity at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School. He is co-editor, with Douglas Field, of a special issue of African American Review on James Baldwin (2014), and he wrote the introduction and notes for the e-book Baldwin for Our Times: Writings From James Baldwin for a Time of Sorrow and Struggle (Beacon Press, 2016). His forthcoming monograph is titled A Radical Interiority: James Baldwin and the Personified Self in Modern American Culture, and he is the editor of Approaches to Teaching the Works of James Baldwin, currently under development for the Modern Language Association.

Nicholas Boggs is currently at work on a literary biography of James Baldwin, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the United States, Bloomsbury UK, and Editions Seuil in France. He is co-editor of Baldwin’s collaboration with French painter Yoran Cazac, Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (Duke, 2018). The recipient of a 2019 Robert and Ina Caro Travel and Research Fellowship from BIO, he is spending spring 2020 as writer-in-residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut. He teaches in the Department of English at New York University.

John Brady is the author of The Craft of Interviewing (Random House), widely used in journalism programs, and Craft of the Screenwriter (Simon and Schuster), used in screenwriting classes. His biographies include Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater (Addison Wesley/Perseus) and Frank & Ava in Love and War (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne), a dual biography of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. A former editor-in-chief of Writer’s Digest and Boston magazine, and founding editor of The Artist’s Magazine, Brady is currently working on a biography of the magazine editor Clay Felker and a book about Marilyn Monroe.

The director of information policy at the University of Virginia Libraries, Brandon Butler has long championed fair use. He serves as the expert adviser to UVA librarians, faculty, and students, as well as to national and international groups, on matters concerning intellectual property, copyright, licensing, and user privacy, especially as they bear on scholarly communication. He has a law degree from UVA and was the co-principle investigator on the widely respected Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.

Kate Buford’s Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf 2010; U. of Nebraska 2012) was an Editors’ Choice of The New York Times and won awards from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and the Professional Football Research Association (PFRA).  Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf/Da Capo/Aurum UK) was named one of the best books of 2000 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and others. In 2013 Knopf released an ebook edition in honor of the centennial of Lancaster’s birth. Buford has written for The New York Times, Film Comment and Bluegrass Unlimited, among other publications, and was a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace. She is a founding partner of Biography by Design LLC. A member of PEN, the Authors Guild, and Biographers International Organization (BIO), she lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ash Carter, co-author of Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols, as remembered by 150 of his closest friends, is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in EsquireVanity FairTown & Country, and The New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Nyssa Chow is a writer, an oral historian, and an interdisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of ethical, engaged listening and the translation of experience. In her practice as an oral historian, she begins with the idea that oral history is “spontaneous literature,” seeking next the creative form that best evokes, and makes visceral, the lived experience of history.  She currently serves as a Princeton Arts Fellow at Princeton University.  She was the 2018 recipient of the PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History, won for the book project, Still. Life. The immersive literary oral history project The Story of Her Skin won the Columbia University Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award. Born and raised in Trinidad, she is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Film program and Columbia’s Oral History MA program.

Heather Clark is professor of contemporary poetry at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England. She is the author of a forthcoming biography of Sylvia Plath to be published by Knopf in August 2020, as well as The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast, 1962–1972. She received an NEH Public Scholar Fellowship in 201718, and was a Biography Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, CUNY, 201617. 

Mary Marshall Clark is director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and co-founder of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts degree program. Formerly, she was an oral historian and filmmaker at The New York Times. Clark has been involved in the oral history movement since 1991 and served as both president of the Oral History Association and on the Executive Council of the International Oral History Association. She was co-principal investigator of the September 11, 2001, Oral History Narrative and Memory Project. She has directed oral history projects on the Carnegie Corporation, the Council on Foreign Relations, Japanese Internment on the East Coast, the Apollo Theater, and Women in the Visual Arts.  Clark also helmed the Atlantic Philanthropies Oral History Project. She is currently a lead investigator on oral histories of Guantánamo Bay and the Obama Presidency.

Cathy Curtis is the author of three biographies of women artists (Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, and Nell Blaine), all published by Oxford University Press. She has written the first biography of the American novelist and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick, forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2021. Her current project is a biography of Edna O’Brien, the Irish novelist, short story writer, and playwright. In recent years, Curtis has coached and mentored dozens of BIO members; for more information about her books and mentoring services, please visit www.cathycurtis.net.

Kavita Das is the author of Poignant Song: The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar, a biography about the Grammy-nominated Hindustani singer who played a pivotal role in bringing Indian music to the West (Harper Collins India, 2019). Nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize, Das writes about culture, race, gender, and their intersections, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Catapult, Fast Company, Tin House, Longreads, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, Kenyon Review, NBC News Asian America, Guernica, Quartz, and elsewhere. She’s also at work on a collection of personal essays.

Mary V. Dearborn’s Ernest Hemingway: A Life was published by Knopf in 2017.  She is also the author of Mistress of Modernism, Mailer, Queen of Bohemia, The Happiest Man Alive, and Pocahontas’s Daughters.  She holds a doctorate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and was a Cullman Fellow in 2018-2019.  She lives in Buckland, Massachusetts, and is working on a biography of Carson McCullers.

Leonard DeGraaf is an archivist at Thomas Edison National Historical Park and worked with Edmund Morris on research for Morris’s Edison. He is the author of Historic Photos of Thomas Edison (Turner Publishing, 2008) and Edison and the Rise of Innovation (Sterling, 2013). He received an MA in history from Rutgers University in 1986.

Claudia Dreifus is the author of Scientific Conversations: Interviews on Science from The New York Times (Times Books, 2002) and Interview (Seven Stories Press, 1999), a book of political and cultural interviews used by journalism programs worldwide, among other books. Dreifus, who teaches “Magazine Writing with an International Dateline” at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, is a contributing writer to the Science Times at The New York Times and and conducts political and cultural Q&As for The New York Review of Books‘s NYR DailyShe is well known for her interviews with leading figures in politics, science, and culture around the world.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City was published by Yale University in 2008. Her second book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (37Ink/Atria) was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and a winner of the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The young readers version of Never Caught (Aladdin/Simon and Schuster) was published in January 2019. In the fall of 2019, Dunbar published She Came To Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman, an accessible biography of one of the most remarkable social activists of the 19th century. Dunbar’s op-eds in outlets such as The New York Times, The Nation, Time, Essence, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, her commentary in media outlets such as CNN and the Los Angeles Times, and her appearances in documentaries such as Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, The Abolitionists, an American Experience production on PBS, and the forthcoming Ken Burns’ documentary on Ben Franklin, place her at the center of America’s public history.

Natalie Dykstra is the author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and nominated for a 2013 Massachusetts Book Award.  She received a 2005 NEH Fellowship for her research on Clover Adams.  Her next book is a biography of the art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, which is under contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and for which she received an inaugural Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship and a 2018 NEH Public Scholar Fellowship.  She is a professor of English at Hope College and an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Gayle Feldman, on BIO’s founding board and originator of the Hazel Rowley Prize, is completing a biography of Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf, for which she won an NEH Public Scholar award. She is author of the cancer memoir You Don’t Have to Be Your Mother; and Best and Worst of Times: The Changing Business of Trade Books, published in conjunction with a fellowship at the Columbia Journalism School. She began her career in London book publishing; was for many years a senior editor at Publishers Weekly; has published journalism widely; and is currently New York Correspondent of The Bookseller.

A senior writer at The New York Times until her retirement in 2018, Margalit Fox wrote more than 1,400 news obituaries for the paper. They include the public sendoffs of many leading cultural figures of our time, among them Betty Friedan, Maurice Sendak, Helen Gurley Brown, Dear Abby, and Ann Landers. She has also written the obituaries of unsung heroes who have quietly altered history, including the inventors of Etch-a-Sketch, Stove Top stuffing and the plastic lawn flamingo. Her work earned two Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York. Fox’s books include The Riddle of the Labyrinth (2013), which received the William Saroyan International Prize for Nonfiction, and Conan Doyle for the Defense (2018). She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a master’s in journalism from Columbia.

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic. Her first biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright/W.W. Norton) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2016, a Time magazine top nonfiction book of 2016, and a “best book of 2016” by The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, and others. Franklin’s work appears in many publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and Harper’s. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2011), was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

Sara B. Franklin is a writer, teacher, oral historian, mother, and wife. Her first book—Edna Lewis: At the Table With an American Original, which chronicled and celebrated the life and work of pioneering Southern chef and cookbook writer Edna Lewis—was published in 2018 to wide acclaim. She’s currently at work on a narrative biography of the legendary editor Judith Jones, an outgrowth of a long-form oral history project she conducted with Jones in 2013. Franklin has a Ph.D. in food studies from NYU and teaches courses on food culture, writing, and oral history at NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study and via the NYU Prison Education Initiative at Wallkill Correctional Facility. Before turning to writing and teaching full-time, she held positions as an organic vegetable farmer, restaurant critic, anti-poverty and sustainable agriculture trainer and advocate, urban agriculture instructor, researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, and professional pie baker.

Steven G. Fullwood is a documentarian and archivist. He is the project director for the Center for Black Visual Culture at NYU and co-founder of the Nomadic Archivists Project, an initiative that preserves archives that explore the African Diasporic experience. His published works include Black Gay Genius and Carry the Word: A Bibliography of Black LGBTQ Books. He is the former assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives & Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where he founded the In the Life Archive (ITLA), a collection focused on the history and culture of LGBTQ people of African descent at the Schomburg Center.

Dr. Justin Gifford is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches courses on American literature, cultural studies, and black popular culture. He is the author of three books, including Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing, Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim, and the forthcoming Revolution or Death: The Life of Eldridge Cleaver. He is currently writing a biography on the science fiction writer, Octavia Butler.

Gillian Gill holds a Ph.D. in modern French literature from Cambridge University, and has taught at Northeastern, Wellesley, Yale, and Harvard. She is the author of Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her MysteriesMary Baker EddyNightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale; The New York Times bestselling We Two: Victoria and Albert, Rulers, Partners, Rivals; and, most recently, Virginia Woolf: And the Women Who Shaped her World. She lives in suburban Boston.

Kimberly A. Hamlin, Ph.D., is an award-winning historian, writer, and speaker. Her new book, Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (W. W. Norton) unearths the story of the “fallen woman” who reinvented herself and became the “most potent factor” in Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment. Free Thinker received support from an NEH Public Scholar Award and the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics. Hamlin speaks about the history of women, gender, and sex across the country and contributes to The Washington Post. She teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. @ProfessorHamlin

Since 1998, Paul Hendrickson has taught nonfiction writing at the University of Pennsylvania, and for two decades before that he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. He is a three-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a winner of it once—for his 2003 Sons of Mississippi. His The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War was a 1996 finalist for the National Book Award. His 2011 Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He loved in Life, and Lost was both a New York Times and London bestseller.  His most recent nonfiction work, published in the fall of 2019, is Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s his fifth book with Alfred A. Knopf.

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina’s four biographies are Carrington: A Life, Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life of the Author of The Secret Garden, Black London: Life Before Emancipation, and Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved out of Slavery and Into Legend. She has edited five other books and published numerous articles and chapters. She has been a tenured professor at Vassar, Barnard, Dartmouth, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has received grants from NEH and Fulbright. She is currently the Paul Kendall Murray Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and was elected in 2017 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2019 to the American Antiquarian Society. She is currently completing a biracial family memoir.

John A. Glusman is vice president and editor-in-chief of W. W. Norton & Company. A publishing veteran of nearly 40 years, he has edited fiction, nonfiction, and worked with Frans de Waal, Ronan Farrow, John Lahr, Erik Larson, Ben Macintyre, Richard Powers, Annie Proulx, David Rohde, David Sanger, William Taubman, and Neil de Grasse Tyson. He is the author of Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941–1945 (Viking, 2004), and in 2019 was named a distinguished alumnus of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Blake Gopnik has been the chief art critic for The Washington Post, the art and design critic for Newsweek, and critic-at-large for Artnet News. While working on his biography of Andy Warhol, he was both a resident fellow at the Leon Levy Center and the recipient of a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. His Warhol will be published by Penguin Books in early March in the U.K. and then by Ecco at HarperCollins in late April in the U.S.A.

David Hajdu is a three-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and author of the group biography Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña and other books.  His biography of Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life, was named one of the Hundred Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by The New York Times.  His latest book, Adrianne Geffel, is a satirical oral history of a fictional composer, to be published by W. W. Norton this fall.  His work in progress is a group biography of three vaudeville stars (Eva Tanguay, Bert Williams, and Julian Eltinge) told in graphic form.

Daisy Hay is the author of Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (2010), for which she was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy, and Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance (2015), for which she received a Somerset Maugham Award. Her current project is a group biography entitled Dinner with Joseph Johnson, and is due for publication in 2021. She is associate professor in English literature and life writing at the University of Exeter and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Prior to her appointment at Exeter, she held a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University, and the Alistair Horne Fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Gerri Hirshey has been a features writer, columnist, reporter, and essayist for The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, GQ, Esquire, The Nation, and New York, among other publications. She is the author of several books, including Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music and most recently, Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown. Hirshey also collaborated with ex-Ronette Ronnie Spector on Spector’s one-woman show, Beyond the Beehive.

Gerald Howard is a long-time executive editor at Doubleday. He is at work on a biography of the editor and critic Malcolm Cowley. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, n+1, The American Scholar, Slate and other publications. He has received the Maxwell E. Perkins Prize for fiction editing and the Roger Klein Award. He is editor of the anthology The Sixties.

Peter Jaszi is a professor emeritus at American University’s Washington College of Law, where he helped found the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property. He writes about copyright history and theory and advises filmmakers and writers about fair use. In addition to having served as a trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, Jaszi was a member of the Librarian of Congress’s Committee on Copyright Registration and Deposit and the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association’s L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award. With Patricia Aufderheide, he is the author of the groundbreaking book Reclaiming Copyright (2nd. edition, 2018).

Brian Jay Jones is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling biographer of “slightly off-center American geniuses” (Washington Post). His most recent book is Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination (Dutton, 2019), but he’s also the author of Washington Irving (Arcade, 2008), Jim Henson: The Biography (Ballantine, 2013), and George Lucas: A Life (Little, Brown, 2016), which means he’s officially covered a large part of your childhood.  While he has interviewed interesting people around the planet, he still considers his interview with Kermit the Frog to be his favorite. He is proud to be a former BIO president and board member, and hopes you’ll meet him for drinks if you ever find yourself in New Mexico.

Channing Gerard Joseph is a winner of both the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant and the Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship for his forthcoming book, House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens—and Changed the World (Crown/Picador). The book follows the untold true story of William Dorsey Swann, an African American man born into slavery who became the world’s first self-described “drag queen” and the leader of possibly the world’s earliest-known gay liberation organization. Joseph’s work has appeared around the globe in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He teaches journalism at USC Annenberg.

Carla Kaplan is Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University and the founding director of the Northeastern University Humanities Center. Kaplan’s books include Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (Harper, 2013), a group biography of white women who crossed race lines in the 1920’s, and Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (Doubleday, 2002), both New York Times Notable Books, as well as five other books, including The Erotics of Talk, edited collections of Hurston’s writing, two edited Norton Critical Editions of Nella Larsen’s writing, and more. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH Public Scholar Fellowship, as well as a Schomburg Center Fellowship, a fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, and a fellowship at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies. “Queen of the Muckrakers: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford, is forthcoming from HarperCollins. She chairs the Board of Associate Editors of Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society, for which she is currently editing a special issue called “Rage” and is currently a fellow of the Northeastern University Humanities Center’s yearly seminar on “Authority and Subversion.”

Sam Kashner is an editor-at-large at Air Mail and was for many years a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. He is the author of Sinatraland (a “notable book” of both The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times) and the memoir When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School and coauthor of The New York Times bestsellers The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee and Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century. His most recent book, co-authored with Ash Carter, is Life Isn’t Everything.

Kitty Kelley (www.kittykelleywriter.com), an internationally acclaimed writer, started her career as the editorial page researcher for The Washington Post. Since then, she’s written 10 books, seven of which are biographies, all New York Times best sellers.  In addition, her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, USA Today, Newsweek, Huffington Post, The American Scholar, and The New Yorker.

Dean King is an award-winning author of nine nonfiction books. His national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara was translated into ten languages, made into a History Channel documentary, and optioned by Steven Spielberg. The Wall Street Journal calls his most recent book, The Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys: The True Story, “popular history the way it ought to be written” and USA Today gives it four stars (out of four). Dean’s groundbreaking biography Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed was serialized in the Daily Telegraph, which named it a book of the year. Dean is the chief storyteller in two History Channel documentaries and is a producer of its unscripted series Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning. He has appeared on NPR, ABC World News Tonight, BBC Radio and TEDx to speak about his explorations and the vital lessons learned from some of history’s most epic journeys. His writing can also be found in Granta, Men’s Journal, Outside, and The New York Times.

Heath Hardage Lee is an independent historian, biographer, and curator. Her publications include Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause (2014) and The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home from Vietnam (2019). The latter has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company. Lee was the 2017 Robert J. Dole Curatorial Fellow, and her exhibition The League of Wives: Vietnam POW MIA Advocates & Allies is traveling through 2020 to museum venues across the United States, including the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.

Neeti Madan represents a wide range of authors, among them #1 New York Times best sellers Lisa Lillien (Hungry Girl) and Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), biographer Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, journalist Pamela Newkirk, artist Rajiv Surendra, and novelist Tommy Hays. Her books run the gamut from the commercial to the cerebral. She is drawn to memoir, journalism, popular culture, lifestyle, women’s issues, multicultural books, and virtually any intelligent writing on intriguing topics. She is on the lookout for the types of books she loves as a reader—page turners that keep her up until 3 a.m., thoughtful writing on important issues that interest her, and irreverent books that make her laugh.

Justin Martin is the author of five biographies featuring subjects ranging from a Federal Reserve chairman (Greenspan: The Man Behind the Money, 1990) to a pioneering landscape architect (Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, 2011). His latest is A Fierce Glory, a group biography treatment of Antietam, the pivotal Civil War battle. Martin prides himself on being a thorough researcher and reporter. Armed with the facts, he aims to render his subjects in novelistic fashion and considers it the highest compliment when someone says, “Your book reads like fiction.” Martin, a former member of BIO’s Board of Directors, lives in New York City

D. T. Max is a staff writer at The New Yorker.  His book, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, was a New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery. He has been the books editor of The New York Observer, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, and a pseudonymous food reviewer for Paper. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two children, and a rescued dachshund/cocker mix named Nemo.

Gillian McCain is the co-author, with Legs McNeil, of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, and co-editor of Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose. She is the author of three books of poetry and is the former program coordinator at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church. With McNeil, she is currently working on a new oral history about the California counterculture of the mid- to late-Sixties, centered around the Manson Family.

William McDonald has been the obituaries editor of The New York Times since 2006. He has edited three books of Times obits, most recently The Book of the Dead, a historical collection published in 2016. In a 32-year career at The Times, he has held editing positions on the Metropolitan, National, Culture, and Investigations desks, contributed numerous articles to the newspaper, and was part of a Times team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for the series “How Race Is Lived in America.”

James McGrath Morris’s books include the New York Times best-selling Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, which was awarded the Benjamin Hooks National Book Prize for the best work in civil rights history; Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power; and The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War. He is currently working on a biography of Tony Hillerman, author of a groundbreaking series of Navajo detective novels.

Pamela Newkirk, Ph.D. is an award-winning journalist and New York University professor whose work examines the contemporary and historical portrayals of African Americans in popular culture. She is the author, most recently, of Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business (Bold Type Books, 2019), which Time magazine included on its 2019 “Must-Read” list, and Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Amistad, 2015), which was a New York Times Editors Choice, awarded the NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and listed among the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, The Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Janice P. Nimura ’s biography of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, pioneering women doctors, is forthcoming in 2021 from W. W. Norton. She is the recipient of a 2017 Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. She lives in New York.

Eleanor Randolph is a long-time journalist who has covered national politics and the media for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers. Her magazine features have appeared in VogueEsquire, and the New Republic. A member of the New York Times editorial staff from 1998 to 2018, she focused on city and state politics, media, and Russia. She is the author of The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg, which The Guardian reviewed as “an essential read,” and lives in Manhattan with her husband.

Anne Boyd Rioux is the author of three books on women writers, including the biography Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist, published by Norton in 2016 and chosen by the Chicago Tribune as one of the 10 best books of the year. She is also the author of a biography of a book, Meg, Jo, Beth Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, published by Norton in 2018 and chosen as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, A Mighty Girl, and The Daily Mail. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, and she has appeared on radio across the U.S., in the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, and Australia. An English professor for twenty years, with a Ph.D. in American Studies, she is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, one for public scholarship. You can find out more about her at anneboydrioux.com.

Corey Robin is a political theorist, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and the author, most recently, of the groundbreaking biography of the quietest Supreme Court justice, The Enigma of Clarence Thomas (2019), which The New York Times has called a “high-wire act” that is “razor sharp.” Robin’s other books include Fear: The History of a Political Idea and The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump.

Karin Roffman is a senior lecturer in humanities and the associate director of public humanities at Yale University. Her first biography, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) was named a New York Times Notable Book for 2017. Her first book, From the Modernist Annex: American Women Writers in Museums and Libraries (2010) won the Elizabeth Agee American Literature Manuscript prize and subsequent publication from the University of Alabama Press. She has written essays for The Yale Review, The Chicago Review, Raritan, Rain Taxi, Modern Fiction Studies, The Wallace Stevens Journal, and others.  She has received two ACLS fellowships and a Howard Foundation mid-career fellowship and is currently writing full biographies on the poet and art critic John Ashbery and the painter Jane Freilicher.

Abigail Santamaria is at work on the first adult biography of Madeleine L’Engle (forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux), for which she was awarded a 2019–2020 Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Santamaria is also the author of Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). She earned a MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, is founding co-partner (with BIO member Kate Buford) of Biography by Design, LLC, and has received fellowships from Jentel, Ragdale, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Philip Shane’s documentaries profile some of the greatest figures in the arts, sciences, and humanities. He has variously served as writer, producer, director, and editor on films such as Einstein (2008), Being Elmo (2011), and Dancing in Jaffa (2013). A short documentary he made with Peter Jennings, Witness to History, preserved the renowned anchorman’s personal memories of 9/11, and now resides in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. His work has won numerous awards, including the Sundance Special Jury Prize, the TriBeCa Audience Award, the Du Pont Columbia Award for Broadcast Journalism, and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program.

Mark Silver is a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Research Programs, where he is the team leader for the Public Scholar Program and for Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan. He holds a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures from Yale University. He is the author of Purloined Letters: Cultural Borrowing and Japanese Crime Literature, 1868-1937 (University of Hawaii Press, 2008) as well as a number of book reviews and peer-reviewed articles in the fields of modern Japanese literature and culture. He has taught at Middlebury College, Connecticut College, and Colgate University.

Carol Sklenicka’s two full-length biographies of American fiction writers—Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer (Scribner, 2019) and Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life (Scribner, 2009)—have received national acclaim and multiple awards. To research her proximate biographies of recently deceased subjects, Sklenicka has drawn upon personal interviews, social media, periodicals, cultural history, and archival collections to write densely layered first biographies. She took up the writing of biography after earning her Ph.D. in literature from Washington University in St. Louis, teaching writing and literature at Marquette University and The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

David Stenn is a television writer-producer whose credits include Hill Street Blues, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Boardwalk Empire on HBO. His biographies of Hollywood icons Clara Bow and Jean Harlow, both now considered definitive works on their subjects, were published by Doubleday and edited by Jacqueline Onassis. For “It Happened One Night…at M-G-M,” first published in Vanity Fair, Stenn persuaded rape survivor Patricia Douglas to break her six-decade silence; the result of these and other interviews became the basis of his documentary Girl 27.

Award-winning producer/writer/director Karen Thorsen finds inspiration at the intersection of art and social justice.  James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket was her first feature-length documentary. Now considered a classic, it has been restored and remastered in 2K widescreen HD—and is the centerpiece of an international outreach and engagement initiative, Conversations With Jimmy (2014-2020). Currently in development is Keep It Lit, a digital, downloadable, design-your-own Baldwin curriculum. (For more, visit JamesBaldwinProject.org.) Other productions include Joe Papp in Five Acts (2012), Philip Johnson: Inside the Glass House (2020), and Thomas Paine: Voice of the Revolution (in progress).

Billy Tooma is the filmmaker behind the biographical documentaries Clarence Chamberlin: Fly First & Fight Afterward (2011) and The Black Eagle of Harlem (2017). He is an assistant professor of English at Essex County College and a faculty member of Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. His current film project is Ken Forsse: Come Dream With Me Tonight, a biography on the life of the former Disney Imagineer who created the World of Teddy Ruxpin. He has proudly served on BIO’s board of directors since 2018.

Amanda Vaill is the author of Everybody Was So Young (a New York Times bestselling biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy that was a finalist for the NBCC); Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins; and Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War; and she recently edited Jerome Robbins, By Himself: Selections From His Letters, Journals, Drawings, Photographs, and an Unfinished Memoir. She is also the writer of the Emmy-winning documentary Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About. She is a past fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. She lives in New York and is writing a biography of the Schuyler sisters.

Carvell Wallace is a New York Times bestselling author, memoirist, and award-winning podcaster who covers race, arts, culture, film, and music for a wide variety of news outlets. He regularly writes for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Esquire, Glamour, MTV,  The New Yorker, ESPN, and The Guardian.  In 2019 Wallace published The Sixth Man, co-written with Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. He is currently co-writing book with the rapper Meek Mill on the topic of criminal justice, and his own memoir on childhood trauma and recovery; Profiles In Hurt is due out in 2021 on the FSG imprint. Wallace is a regular contributor to Slate, where he co-hosts the parenting advice podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting. He lives in Oakland, California, and is the father to two teenagers.

Eric K. Washington is author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal (Liveright/W. W. Norton), published in October, which has received praise from media as disparate as The Wall Street Journal and the Bowery Boys Podcast team (ten favorite NYC history books of 2019). He is a Columbia University Community Scholar, Leon Levy Biography Fellow and Dora Maar House Residency Fellow. His first book, Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem, inspired his interpretive signage in West Harlem Piers Park, which won the Municipal Art Society’s 2010 MASterworks Award.

Bruce Weber spent 30 years at The New York Times as a magazine editor, reporter, and theater critic, and from 20082016, as an obituary writer. He has written two books, As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires, and Life Is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America. A recipient of a Leon Levy Biography Fellowship in 2017, he is at work on a biography of the novelist E. L. Doctorow, due from Scribner circa 2022

Lawrence Weschler was for 20 years a staff writer at The New Yorker (19812001), and then for 13 years (20012014) the director, now emeritus, of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.  He has been a regular contributor to, among others, The New York Times MagazineVanity FairHarper’s, and McSweeney’s, and he is the author of coming on 20 books, including lives of artists Robert Irwin and David Hockney; Mr Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder; Vermeer in BosniaCalamities of Exile: and now, And How Are You, Doctor Sacks? (a biographical memoir of his 35-year friendship with the neurologist Oliver Sacks). For more, visit www.lawrenceweschler.com

Lindsay Whalen began her career as a book editor and is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA in Fiction, where she was the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship and the Lainoff Short Story Prize. She is a former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow, and her authorized biography of Mary Oliver is forthcoming from Penguin Press.

Sonja D. Williams is an experienced media writer and producer who has won multiple awards—including three prestigious Peabody Awards—for her radio documentary work.  She also is the co-producer of BIO’s podcast series. Williams is the author of Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom (Blackstone Publishing [audiobook] 2018; University of Illinois Press [paperback] 2015), the biography of a pioneering broadcast dramatist, journalist, and activist.  In addition, Williams serves as a professor and interim chair of the Department of Media Journalism and Film in the Howard University Cathy Hughes School of Communications in Washington, D.C.

David Yaffe is a professor of humanities at Syracuse University. He is the author, most recently, of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (FSG, 2017), winner of the Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award and the Best History in the Recorded Sound Collections Excellence Awards. He is also the author of Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown (Yale, 2011) and Fascinating Rhythm (Princeton, 2005). He is a 2012 winner of the Roger Shattuck Prize in Criticism and his writings have appeared in many publications, including The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, Slate, The Nation, and Bookforum.

Carlin Zia is a poly-hyphenate maker and educator. She is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Oral History MA program (OHMA), where her thesis, Uncertain Journeys, won the 2019 Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award, given to one student annually whose work makes an important contribution to knowledge and most exemplifies the rigor, creativity, and ethical integrity that OHMA teaches its students. Uncertain Journeys, an epic poem in an invented form, records the life story of Carlin’s Chinese-born grandfather while simultaneously charting her own project of self-historicization within that intergenerational and intercultural context. Recently, Carlin has been supporting the 201819 and 201920 OHMA cohorts as a teaching assistant, freelancing as a film editor and videographer, and consulting on qualitative data collection and analytics with the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center at Teachers College.