Annual BIO Conference

BIO Cancels 2020 Conference

In light of reports about the worldwide spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the announcement by the CUNY Provost to cancel public programs and in-person class meetings for the rest of the spring semester, the BIO Board of Directors decided—regretfully but unanimously—to cancel the 2020 BIO conference. Everyone who has registered will receive a full refund of the registration fee plus all additional fees. As much as possible, BIO will preserve the 2020 program for its 2021 conference, which will take place in New York at the CUNY Graduate Center the weekend of May 14-16.


Of all the programs and services provided to BIO members, Biographers International Organization is proudest of its annual conference. Each year, BIO brings together some of the finest practitioners of the craft of biography to help guide, mentor, encourage, and advise attendees on a wide variety of topics relating to the the writing, researching, and selling of biography.

The conference also offers a unique opportunity to hear some of biography’s best—and best-known—writers share their stories. During the James Atlas Plenary, prominent biographers such as Douglas Brinkley, Annette Gordon-Reed, David Remnick, Stacy Schiff , T. J. Stiles, and Evan Thomas begin the day in casual conversation. The afternoon features a keynote lecture by the recipient of the BIO Award. Past recipients include Robert Caro, Ron Chernow, Arnold Rampersad, Jean Strouse, and Claire Tomalin. Panel sessions throughout the day provide tips for novice biographers, examination of the craft of biography, and exploration of issues aimed at seasoned biographers. And a highlight of the conference is the presentation of the Plutarch Award for the year’s best biography.

Members tell us one of their favorite things about the conference is the opportunity to meet and mingle with their fellow writers. The BIO conference provides many opportunities to socialize and swap stories with fellow biographers, from the Friday night cocktail reception to lunchtime roundtables to the Saturday evening closing reception.

But don’t take our word for it. Hear what others have to say:

“What verve, enthusiasm and warmth I felt at the BIO conference, both from the leadership and from fellow biographers—published and prestigious to unpublished and aspiring! The experience was a mega booster shot for participants who were able to tour the oldest library in our country, listen to presenters who are developing an exciting new approach to our genre, and interact with successful authors/coaches who were willing to share information from marketing techniques to tracking footnotes in a new computer program. The breadth and depth of knowledge, held and shared, by professional writers such as you, proved awe-inspiring.

Besides, we had so much fun—talking, talking, talking and listening, listening, listening! We were among peers who love using good language and sharing experiences and techniques in a mutual goal to bring the achievements of society’s movers and shakers to light.”

—Martha Nodine


“I’m so pleased that I was able to attend the 2015 Biographers International Conference luncheon and look forward to future events! Taylor Branch was a profound keynote speaker . . . I am so inspired by Branch’s works, the King Trilogy, Clinton memoir, among his books, and look forward to Branch’s upcoming  film project with The Wire producers. Please extend my thanks to the staff, board and volunteers for assuring that Biographers International Organization is a wonderful resource for all writers!”

—Jacqueline Miller Byrd
Remembering, A. Philip Randolph


“What struck me that stood out at BIO from other writers conferences was the quality of conversation—from the hugely enlightening panelists, the lunchtime talk from Ron Chernow, and especially the questions and discussion from the members.  I’ve never met a group of writers as passionate about their craft.”

—Ryan Doherty, Senior Editor, Ballantine Books


“I can’t express enough how lucky I feel that I found out about [the BIO Conference] when I did, and that I had a chance to go. It was invaluable, to the point that I think it changed my life, or at least changed the approach I’m making to it, since writing means so much to me.”

—David Steele