2022 BIO Conference

BIO welcomes biographers, editors, agents, publishers, and publicity professionals from across the nation and around the world to the 12th annual BIO Conference, being held virtually. BIO is honored again to partner with the Leon Levy Center for Biography to host this event. Registration for the 2022 BIO Conference is now available through Eventbrite:

 

Register Now!

About the Conference

The 2022 BIO conference will take place online Friday through Sunday, May 13–15, 2022. Panels, social hours, and roundtables are live and take place in real time. Other events are prerecorded and may be watched at your convenience, as indicated. The panels will also be recorded and available to conference participants a week or two after the conference itself.

The cost of registration is $49 for BIO members, $99 for nonmembers. Those in need of financial assistance may apply for a Chip Bishop Fellowship here.

The conference will begin with the James Atlas Plenary, in which two experimental biographers address the theme of the conference: “Disrupting the Conventions of Biography.” Plenary speakers will be Craig Brown, author of 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret and 150 Glimpses of the Beatles; and George Packer, author of Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the America Century.

On Saturday the 2022 BIO Award winner, Megan Marshall, will deliver the keynote address. A long-time advocate for biography and biographers, Marshall is the author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism; Margaret Fuller: A New American Life; and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast. Her books have received multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Margaret Fuller.

Panels on the basics of biography, its craft, its business aspects, and its recent disruptions are offered on all three days. Sixteen live Zoom panels will include Biography in the Age of #metoo; Biography in Different Forms; Biography in the Worst of Times; Biographies of Families and Family Members; Black Women’s Biography; and Bertelsmann and the Future of Publishing.

Also offered will be round tables on various subjects, short readings of new books by members, announcements of the Biblio award and fellowship winners, and the announcement of the Plutarch Award for the best biography of 2021, as judged by biographers. New this year will be two virtual social hours, one on Friday afternoon and the other on Sunday evening.

BIO members who have a new biography published between June 1, 2021 and June 1, 2022 are invited to participate in the conference reading. Self-published books are not eligible. Please send the title of your book, the name of its publisher, and the month of publication here.

Program

Friday, May 13

All times listed are New York (Eastern Daylight) time. Panels and roundtables are live and take place in real time. Other events are prerecorded and may be watched at your convenience, as indicated. The panels will also be recorded and available to conference participants a week or two after the conference itself.

11:30 AM–12:00 PM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Welcome by Linda Leavell, President of BIO, and by Kai Bird, Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the co-sponsor of the conference (prerecorded event, watch any time after 11:30 AM EDT).

 

12:00 PM–1:00 PM
(Prerecorded; available after 12:00 PM)

JAMES ATLAS PLENARY*

Disrupting the Conventions of Biography

*James Atlas (1949 –2019), literary biographer, essayist, and editor, was throughout his distinguished career a dedicated friend to biographers and a committed champion of the genre of biography. BIO is grateful to have benefited from his collegiality, his memorable contributions to many conference panels, and his generous support of younger biographers.

Craig Brown is the author of Hello Goodbye Hello; 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, which won the James Tait Black Award for Nonfiction; and, most recently, 150 Glimpses of The Beatles, which won the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize. He has written for many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the TLS, The New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair. For over thirty years, he has written the parodic diary in Private Eye magazine. He divides his time between Bloomsbury in London and Aldeburgh in Suffolk.

George Packer is the author of the award-winning biography Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, which won the Hitchens Prize, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His other books include The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2013. His latest book, Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal was released last June. He is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

 

1:15 PM–2:15 PM

Social Hour

Live on Zoom

2:30 PM–3:30 PM

PANELS (Panels are simultaneous, not sequential, within each time slot. Attendees must choose which panel to view live but the other will be recorded for later viewing.)

Archives Unlimited

Where do you look for unusual insights into your subject’s life and work? Beyond the major archives, three seasoned biographers suggest public records kept by your subjects’ friends and colleagues; state archives; private collections and auction houses; sound archives; specialty researchers; an even searching an old barn.

Moderator
Caleb Gayle
is an award-winning journalist and Professor of Practice at Northeastern University who writes about race and identity. He is a fellow at New America and PEN America, a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, and a winner of the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award. Gayle’s writing has appeared in  The New York Times Magazine,  The Atlantic,  The Guardian,  Guernica, and other publications. His debut work, We Refuse to Forget, comes out June 7, 2022, with Riverhead Books.

Panelists
Jonathan Eig
is a former senior special writer for  The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including two highly acclaimed bestsellers, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season.  And Joyce Carol Oates referred to his book, Ali: A Life, as “an epic of a biography.”

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, 2016) 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, the  San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, and others. 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.

Dr. Kevin McGruder, Associate Professor of history at Antioch is the author of  Philip Payton: The Father of Black Harlem, published by Columbia University Press in July 2021. During the 1990s, Kevin McGruder served as the director of real estate development for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a nonprofit church-based organization in Harlem, and he wrote a book about race and real estate in Harlem.

 

Biography in the Age of #MeToo

How do we handle sexually sensitive evidence in the context of complex power relations and evolving moral sensibilities?

Moderator
Debby Applegate is a historian and biographer whose first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and American Heritage Magazine. Her second book, Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age, was released by Doubleday in November, 2021. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, workplace writer Bruce Tulgan.

Panelists
Barbara Burkhardt 
Barbara Burkhardt is currently writing a biography of Garrison Keillor, under contract with St. Martin’s Press. She is also the author of William Maxwell: A Literary Life (University of Illinois Press, 2008), about The New Yorker magazine fiction editor and novelist. Over a period of ten years, Maxwell answered Barbara’s questions on his clattering Coronamatic while she sat at his side—and he would turn the typewriter stand around on its squeaky wheels so she could read his responses. The biography won widespread praise from the New York Times to The [London] Times. The Chicago Tribune named it one of the best books of 2005, calling it a “most distinguished . . . brilliant biography” with “deeply layered, supple, and clear prose.” As a follow-up, Barbara edited Conversations with William Maxwell (University of Mississippi Press, 2012), a compilation of Maxwell’s interviews and speeches, which includes the full transcript of her interviews with him.

David Garrow is also the author of Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (Macmillan, 1994) and Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Morrow, 1986), which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the seventh annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Garrow is also the author of  The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Norton, 1981) and Protest at Selma (Yale University Press, 1978), as well as editor of  The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson (University of Tennessee Press, 1987); and other books. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Garrow graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University in 1975 and received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1981.

Amanda Vaill is is the author of Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, the bestselling Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy—A Lost Generation Love Story, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, and Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. In addition to writing the screenplay for the Emmy– and Peabody Award–winning public television documentary Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, she has also written features and criticism for many publications, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar.

 

3:45 PM–4:45 PM

PANELS

A Secret Art: Building Suspense into Your Narrative

How to write a page-turner.

Moderator
Andrew Meier is the author of Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall, The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin’s Secret Service, and Morgenthau: Power, Privilege and The Rise of An American Dynasty (forthcoming from Random House, Sept. 2022).  His first two books were named to a number of “Books of the Year” lists, and Black Earth was widely hailed as one of the best books on Russia to appear since the end of the USSR. His work has been recognized with fellowships from the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library, as well as from the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. A former Moscow correspondent for Time, Meier has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and numerous other publications for more than two decades.

Panelists
Rebecca Donner is the author of the New York Times bestselling book All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days was a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2021, a New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2021 by the Wall Street Journal, and was selected as a best book of the year by Time Magazine and The Economist. Donner was a 2018-19 fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, is a two-time Yaddo fellow, and has twice been awarded fellowships by Ucross Foundation. She has taught at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and Barnard College. She is also the author of two critically acclaimed works of fiction, and was recently named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

T.J. Stiles has received the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction, 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the 2016 Pulitzer for History, and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer for Biography. He is a past Guggenheim Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, and Gilder Lehrman Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He serves on the BIO advisory board, the Society of American Historians executive board, and the Authors Guild council. He is the author of biographies of Jesse James, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and George Armstrong Custer, and is writing a biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Black Women’s Biography

Black women’s biographies often illuminate neglected history. They also reshape our understanding of what makes up a life, where its record is found, and how its impact should be measured. Three highly successful biographers of Black female entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists, writers, artists and organizers—some of them family members, some of them celebrities—will address how the specifics of these stories reveal both biography’s limits and its potential, shedding new light on pressing issues of craft, audience, market, voice, sources, and more.

Moderator
Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature, has published seven books, including 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 the definitive editions of Nella Larsen’s novels Passing and Quicksand. A Guggenheim and NEH “Public Scholar” Fellow, she has held fellowships from the Schomburg Center, the Cullman Center, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies, and elsewhere. Chair of the Signs editorial board, Kaplan founded Northeastern’s Humanities Center, is an NEH Humanities Advisor, a Fellow of the Society for American History, and is completing a biography of Jessica Mitford, forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Panelists
A’Lelia Bundles is the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, a New York Times Notable Book about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother and the inspiration for Self Made, the fictional Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer. Ms. Bundles is at work on The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, about her great-grandmother whose parties, arts patronage, and international travels helped define the era. A former network television executive and producer at ABC News and NBC News, she is on the advisory board of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and founder of the Madam Walker Family Archives.

Soyica Diggs Colbert is the Idol Family Professor of African American Studies and Performing Arts at Georgetown University.  She has had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Stanford University, Mellon Foundation, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library. Colbert is an Associate Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the author of  Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry,  Black Movements, and  The African American Theatrical Body.  She also served as a Creative Content Producer for The Public Theatre’s audio play, shadow/land. Her research interests span the 19th-21st centuries, from Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé, and from poetics to performance.

Dr. Ashley D. Farmer is an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of  Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era.  Farmer’s scholarship has appeared in numerous venues including  The Black Scholar  and  The Journal of African American History. Her research has also been featured in several popular outlets including  Vibe,  NPR, The Chronicle Review, and The Washington Post. She is currently at work on Queen Mother Audley Moore: Mother of Black Nationalism, the first full-length biography of Moore whose career spanned nearly seventy years.

 

5:00 PM–5:45 PM

3-Minute Readings by BIO Members

Readings from new books by BIO Members (prerecorded event, watch any time after 5:00 PM EDT). BIO members with biographies published between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022 read from their books for three minutes each. Self-published books are not eligible. Please send the title of your book, the name of its publisher, and the month of publication here.

Saturday, May 14

All times listed are New York (Eastern Daylight) time. Panels and roundtables are live and take place in real time. Other events are prerecorded and may be watched at your convenience, as indicated. The panels will also be recorded and available to conference participants a week or two after the conference itself.

11:00 AM–12:00 PM

PANELS (Panels are simultaneous, not sequential, within each time slot. Attendees must choose which panel to view live but the other will be recorded for later viewing.)

Slice of Life or Cradle to Grave?

How to judge whether a life is best told in full or part?

Moderator
Alexis Coe is a historian and the New York Times bestselling author of  You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George of Washington, now out in paperback,  and  Alice+Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis. She has contributed to the New Yorker, the New York Times, the New Republic, and many others, and can often be seen discussing presidential history on MSNBC and the History Channel.

Panelists
Phoebe Hoban’s books include biographies of the artists Jean Michel Basquiat (Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art) and Alice Neel (Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty). She also the author of Eyes Wide Open, a 195-page full biography of Lucian Freud.

Benjamin Moser was born in Houston. He is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book of 2009. For his work bringing Clarice Lispector to international prominence, he received Brazil’s first State Prize for Cultural Diplomacy. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017, and his latest book, Sontag: Her Life and Work, won the Pulitzer Prize.

Ted Widmer is an American historian, writer, librarian, and musician who served as a speechwriter in the Clinton White House, as director and librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and as director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He is a faculty member at the Macaulay Honors College, and his most recent biography is Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington.

 

Visual and Aural Feasts: Biography in Different Forms

What creative and financial concerns must be tackled to compellingly explore a person’s life using  film, podcasts and poetry? A documentary filmmaker, a writer/podcaster and a poet, each celebrated award-winners, provide inspiration and advise for anyone interested in pursuing different biographical approaches.

Moderator
Sonja Williams is a three-time Peabody Award-winning radio producer whose documentary productions, including episodes on the Jazz Profiles, Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was, and Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions series, were distributed by NPR, Public Radio International and the Smithsonian Institution. She also is the author of Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom, a 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Award finalist. Williams has served as a journalist and media trainer in Africa, the Caribbean and throughout America. She is a professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Panelists
Barbara Allen is an accomplished filmmaker whose documentary films have been screened around the world, including at the Cannes Film Festival and the Pan African Film and Television Festival. With over a dozen Emmy Awards to her credit, her 2010 award winning film, DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis, broke PBS pledge records. As a Knight Journalism Fellow at Sanford University, Allen used virtual reality (VR) technology to recreate the harrowing experiences of Hurricane Katrina survivors, and she has shot other VR projects and web-based shorts. Currently, she is working on Red Summer/Winter Blues, a film exploring the untold story of Black resistance, uprising and awakening.

Marilyn Nelson is a poet, translator, and celebrated author of more than twenty books for adults and children. Her many award-winning books include, A Wreath for Emmett Till and Carver: A Life in Poems—a National Book Award finalist, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Carver also received the Flora Stieglitz Straus and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards. Nelson, a Guggenheim Fellow, previously served as Connecticut’s Poet Laureate. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, and her latest book, Augusta Savage: A Shape of a Sculptor’s Life (2022), is a biography written in poetic verse.

 

Julia Sweig is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight. She is an award-winning author of books on Cuba, Latin America, and American foreign policy. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and multiple other outlets. Her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution, won the American Historical Association’s award for best book by an independent scholar. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University. She is the creator, host, and executive producer of the podcast In Plain Sight, a co-production of Best Case Studios and ABC News.

 

BIO AWARD AND KEYNOTE

12:30 PM–1:15 PM

Presentation of BIO Award by Linda Leavell, Introduction by Natalie Dykstra, Keynote Address by Megan Marshall (prerecorded; available after 1:00 PM).

Megan Marshall is the author of three biographical works: The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), winner of the Francis Parkman Prize, Mark Lynton History Prize, and Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction, as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography; Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction; and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), a finalist for the Christian Gauss Prize in Literary Criticism of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

She is also the first Charles Wesley Emerson College Professor at Emerson College in Boston, where she teaches narrative nonfiction, life writing, and the art of archival research in the MFA Creative Writing Program. Marshall is a passionate advocate for the genre of biography as well as a practitioner, and a founder of the New England Biography Series at the Massachusetts Historical Society, which has presented several public programs each year for over a decade on topics related to biographical research and writing. Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Atlantic, London Review of Books, New York Times Book Review, and Literary Hub. In support of her research and writing, Marshall has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, Bogliasco Foundation Study Center in Italy, and T. S. Eliot House in Gloucester, Massachusetts, as well as a visiting professorship at Kyoto University. She has lectured widely on her work and appeared in documentary films on Fuller, Thoreau, and Poe.

 

1:30 PM–2:30 PM

PANELS

Scaling the Castle Walls: Dealing with Gatekeepers

Practical guidance for working around obstacles and gaining access to documents and interviews about subjects who may or may not want to have their life stories told.

Moderator
Will Swift is a past president of BIO and the author of The Roosevelts and the Royals, The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm, and Pat & Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage.

Panelists
Kati Marton’s most recent book, The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel was a New York Times Notable Book of 2021. A former ABC News correspondent and Bureau Chief in Germany, Marton has written two memoirs and numerous other books, including Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, and a biography of Raoul Wallenberg. She has combined her career as a journalist and biographer with work in human rights advocacy.

Susan Morrison is the editor of the anthology, Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers. She is currently at work on a biography of Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, to be published by Random House. Morrison is the recipient of a Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography and is the Articles Editor of the New Yorker, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to that, she was the editor in chief of The New York Observer and, in the ’80s, one of the founding editors of SPY Magazine.

Carl Rollyson is the author of fourteen biographies for adults, and four biographies for children. His biographies of Rebecca West and Amy Lowell, and his study, A Higher Form of Cannibalism? Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography, were supported by NEH Fellowships. Three of his biographies—of Marilyn Monroe, Dana Andrews, and Walter Brennan—are part of the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi. His two-volume biography, The Life of William Faulkner, and The Last Days of Sylvia Plath, were both published in 2020. Website: carlrollyson.com; Podcast: https://anchor.fm/carl-rollyson.

 

How is Biography Addressing Nature and Climate Change?

Panelists will discuss their biographies of naturalists and nature writers, including Thoreau, Carson, Schaller, Goodall and von Humbolt. How has their work changed contemporary and modern attitudes about the natural world?

Moderator
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is the author or editor of nine books, including 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 appeared many times on British and American radio and television, and on podcasts. For 15 years she hosted the nationally-syndicated radio show “The Book Show.” She is currently the Paul Kendall Murray Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Panelists
Andrea Barnet is the author of Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Changed Our World, a finalist for the 2019 PEN/Bograd Weld Award for Biography and one of Booklist’s four “2018 Editors’ choice for biography” selections. Her previous book,  All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930, was a Lambda Literary award finalist. Her journalism has appeared in the New York Times, where she was a regular contributor for twenty-five years, Smithsonian Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, and The Toronto Globe and Mail, among other publications. She splits her time between the Hudson Valley and New York City.

Miriam Horn is an author, journalist, filmmaker, and conservationist. She has written three collective biographies: of the women of Wellesley ’69 (Hillary’s class); inventors at the cutting edge of clean energy; and unlikely conservationists in the American heartland. The last was made into a documentary, which Horn produced; Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman premiered at Sundance. Horn has written for the New York Times and many other publications, and spent two decades working for the U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Defense Fund. She is now at work for Penguin Press on the first-ever biography of George Schaller, who transformed field biology and our understanding of animals.

Laura Dassow Walls is Professor Emerita at the University of Notre Dame, where she taught American literature and the history and theory of ecological thought; previously she taught at Lafayette College and the University of South Carolina. Her biography Henry David Thoreau: A Life (Chicago 2017) received Phi Beta Kappa’s Christian Gauss Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Biography. Her other books include the award-winning Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (2009); Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth (2003); and Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (1995). Currently she is working on a literary biography of the American writer Barry Lopez.

 

2:45 PM–3:45 PM

PANELS

Biography in the Worst of Times

Donald Trump continues to define the bestseller list, with books that extoll and decry him. This distinguished panel will explore how biographies have addressed major and disruptive events in our nation’s history, in politics and culture, from the Civil War and the McCarthy Era to the civil rights movement and the Watergate scandal. What are the lessons for authors who want to explore and illuminate tumultuous times?

Moderator
Susan Page is the Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY and the author of Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, both New York Times bestsellers. She’s now working on a biography of Barbara Walters for Simon & Schuster. Her coverage of the presidency has been awarded the Merriman Smith Award for deadline writing, the Aldo Beckman Award for overall excellence, and the Gerald R. Ford Prize. She moderated the 2020 vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.

Panelists
John A. Farrell is the author of Richard Nixon: The Life, which in 2017 won the PEN America award for best biography and the New York Historical Society book prize for the best volume of American history. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, Farrell published Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century, which won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress. His book Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best biography of 2012. He has also received a George Polk Award, a Gerald R. Ford Prize, and White House Correspondents honors for his coverage of the presidency.

David Nasaw is a historian and distinguished professor whose biographies include The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, which won the Bancroft Prize; Andrew Carnegie, which won the New York Historical Society’s American History book prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. His most recent publication is The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War. He recently retired as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., professor of history at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Tamara Payne is the co-author of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, which won the National Book Award for best non-fiction in 2020 and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2021. It was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and was named a best book of the year by Time magazine, The Washington Post, and other publications. She was the primary researcher and co-author with her father, Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former editor and columnist at Newsday, who had pursued this project for nearly 30 years. When he passed away in 2018, she completed their work.

 

Must You Like Your Subject?

Can biographers be “objective” about their subjects? What if we come to loathe them? Do they have rights that we should keep in mind—even after death?

Moderator
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. He is currently at work on a history of the U.S. Capitol.

Panelists
Allen C. Guelzo is senior research scholar at the Council of Humanities at Princeton University. He is the author of several books about the Civil War and early 19th-century American history. He has been the recipient of the Lincoln Prize three times, the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize for Military History, and many other honors. His Robert E. Lee: A Life, a timely and widely praised reappraisal of the Confederate general, was published by Knopf in 2021.

Mary Jordan is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The Washington Post and a bestselling author. Her book, Trump on Trial, coauthored with her husband and Washington Post colleague Kevin Sullivan, features reporting from dozens of Washington Post journalists, and traces the investigation, acquittal, and aftermath of the impeachment of Donald Trump. Jordan’s New York Times bestselling book, The Art of Her Deal, an unauthorized biography of Melania Trump, was published in June 2020. Jordan and Sullivan are also authors of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, the story of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, who were kidnapped in Cleveland and held for a decade. They previously wrote The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia’s Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail. They were the Washington Post’s co-bureau chiefs in Tokyo, Mexico City, and London for fourteen years.

Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy. Tye’s first book, The Father of Spin, is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L. Bernays. His Satchel (2009) is the biography of two American icons–Satchel Paige and Jim Crow. Superman (2012) tells the nearly real-life story of the most enduring American hero of the last century. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon (2016) explores RFK’s amazing transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist. Tye is now writing, for HarperCollins, The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Satchmo Armstrong and Count Basie Transformed America.

 

4:00 PM–5:00 PM

Awards Presentation

Presentation of the Biblio Award, the Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship, the Frances “Frank” Rollin Fellowship, the Hazel Rowley Prize, and the Ray A. Shepard Service Award (prerecorded event, watch any time after 4:00 PM EDT).

Sunday, May 15

All times listed are New York (Eastern Daylight) time. Panels and roundtables are live and take place in real time. Other events are prerecorded and may be watched at your convenience, as indicated. The panels will also be recorded and available to conference participants a week or two after the conference itself.

11:00 AM–12:00 PM

PANELS (Panels are simultaneous, not sequential, within each time slot. Attendees must choose which panel to view live but the other will be recorded for later viewing.)

Biography of Families and a Family Member

Have a grandmother or great-uncle whose life would make a compelling biography? Have a multi-generational story itching to dance from your keyboard to the printed page? But how? Learn from a panel of experienced biographers about their strategies for researching and interviewing, remaining objective, handling family secrets, and telling a story that crosses generations—the essential building blocks for writing a captivating individual or group biography of a family or family member.

Moderator
Edward Ball is the author of six books of history and biography that tell stories about enslavement, white and Black family history, genetics, and other subjects. His first book, Slaves in the Family (1998), an account of his family’s history as slaveholders in Charleston, South Carolina, received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. His most recent, Life of a Klansman (2020), is a biography of a marauder in the Ku Klux Klan, Edward’s great-grandfather, a carpenter in New Orleans who fought to restore white supremacy to Louisiana during Reconstruction. Edward Ball has taught at Yale University and the State University of New York, and has been awarded fellowships by the Radcliffe Institute, at Harvard, and at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center.

Panelists
Jennet Conant is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II, and the critically acclaimed 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, which won the “Spirit of the West” Literary Achievement Award. Her other books include the bestsellers The Irregulars and A Covert Affair. Her biography of her grandfather, Man of the Hour: James B. Conant, Warrior Scientist, was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “an outstanding portrait of a technocrat, at work and at home.”

Bernice Lerner is the author of All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, a race-against-time rescue story that traces the journeys of Rachel Genuth (her mother), a teenager from the Hungarian provinces, and Glyn Hughes, a high-ranking British medical officer, over the last year of WWII. Other of Bernice’s works include The Triumph of Wounded Souls: Seven Holocaust Survivors’ Lives, and book chapters and articles on virtue ethics. Bernice formerly served as dean of adult learning at Hebrew College and as director of Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility. Her work in progress pertains to her father, a survivor of Hungarian forced labor, and President Harry Truman, who argued for the resettlement of European refugees in the United States.

Rachel L. Swarns is a journalist, author and professor and a contributing writer for the New York Times. She is the author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, a multigenerational biography published by Amistad/HarperCollins, and a co-author of Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives, published by Black Dog & Leventhal. Her forthcoming book, to be published by Random House, is a multigenerational biography of an enslaved family torn apart by the 1838 slave sale that saved Georgetown University from financial ruin. She is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and her work has been recognized and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the MacDowell artist residency program and others.

 

Bertelsmann and the Future of Publishing

What are the implications of the pending Bertelsmann/Random House acquisition of Simon & Schuster for authors and readers? Is total consolidation inevitable?

Moderator
As an independent journalist, Christopher Kenneally has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and many other publications. He also reported for WBUR-FM (Boston), National Public Radio, and WGBH-TV (PBS-Boston). He is author of Massachusetts 101 and The Massachusetts Legacy. He is also the host of “Velocity of Content,” a twice-weekly podcast from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). He is senior director of content marketing at CCC, where he develops content and programming covering publishing and research.

Panelists
Andrew Albanese

Mary Rasenberger is the CEO of the Authors Guild and Authors Guild Foundation. Prior to joining the Guild in November 2014, Mary practiced law for over 25 years in roles that spanned private practice, the government and corporate sector, as a recognized expert in copyright and media law. From 2002 to 2008 Mary worked for the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress as senior policy advisor and program director for the National Digital Preservation Program. Immediately prior to coming to the Guild in late 2014, Mary was a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, and previously Counsel at Skadden Arps, where she counseled and litigated on behalf of publishing, media, entertainment, and internet companies, as well as authors and other creators, in all areas of copyright and related rights. Earlier in her career, Mary worked at other major New York law firms and for a major record company. Mary is a frequent speaker, lecturer and writer on copyright law and authors’ rights. She is on the Council of the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section; an Advisor to the Executive Committee of the Copyright Society of the USA; a founder of Copyright Awareness Week, and an Adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Law, Copyright. Mary received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College, and her B.A. from Barnard College.

Christopher L. Sagers is the James A. Thomas Professor of Law at Cleveland State University, specializing in antitrust law. He is the author of United States v. Apple: Competition in America (Harvard University Press, 2019).

12:30–1:30 PM

Roundtable Discussion Groups

Small groups with similar interests meet and converse informally. Topics for tables include First-time Biographers, Women’s Biography, Popular Culture, Overlooked Lives, Group Biography, and others. (Choose a Roundtable topic on the Eventbrite ticket checkout page if you register for the conference by May 6.)

1:45 PM–2:45 PM

PANELS

Bio Hacks: Tips and Tricks of the Trade

Eminently successful biographers share personal tips and tactics for smart researching, lively writing, and gracefully bringing it all together in the end.

Moderator
Nicholas Boggs, a 2021-2022 NEH Long-Term Fellow at the New York Public Library, is also the recipient of a Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship, a Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship from Biographer’s International Organization, and a Visiting U.S. Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. Co-editor of James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (2018), he is currently at work on a Baldwin biography, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Panelists
Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities  and Professor of History at Rice University, CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as their official U.S. Presidential Historian. His recent book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize while The Great Deluge:  Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.  He has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link–Warren F. Kuehl Prize.  He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.

David Maraniss is the author of Barack Obama and When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi. He is an associate editor at the Washington Post and the author of a dozen critically acclaimed bestselling books about history, politics, and sports. Among the most honored writers and journalists of his generation, Maraniss won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his reportage on Bill Clinton, was part of a Post team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy, and has been a Pulitzer finalist twice more for his journalism and once in history for They Marched into Sunlight. A fellow of the Society of American Historians and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University, Maraniss lives in Washington, D.C. and Madison, WI, with his wife, Linda.

Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer
Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer finalist; and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize. Her Cleopatra: A Life and The Witches, have both been #1 bestsellers. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019, she has been named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government.

 

Law and the Biographer

Biographers and legal experts clarify the legal challenges authors face today and offer explanations and solutions.

Moderator
David O. Stewart became a bestselling writer of history and historical fiction after many years as a trial and appellate lawyer. The Wall Street Journal called his George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father, “an outstanding biography,” providing “a narrative drive such a life deserves.” His other histories have explored the writing of the Constitution, the gifts of James Madison, Aaron Burr’s western expedition and treason trial, and the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. He has won the Washington Writing Award for best book, the History Prize of the Society of the Cincinnati (twice), the George Washington Memorial Award, and the Prescott Award of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

Panelists
Patricia Aufderheide, Ph.D., is University Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. A historian by training, she founded the School’s Center for Media & Social Impact, where she continues as Senior Research Fellow. Her books include Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago, second edition, 2018), with Peter Jaszi. She and Jaszi have facilitated, for creative communities including nonfiction authors, teachers, librarians and filmmakers, more than a dozen codes of best practices in fair use, all available at cmsimpact.org/fair-use.

Blake Gopnik has been the staff art critic at the Globe and Mail, the Washington Post, and Newsweek and is now a regular contributor to the New York Times. Warhol, his comprehensive biography of the Pop artist, was published by Ecco at HarperCollins in 2020. While working on 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. Gopnik has a Ph.D. in art history from Oxford University.

Christopher Jon Sprigman is the Murray and Kathleen Bring Professor of Law at New York University, where he teaches intellectual property law, antitrust law, torts, and comparative constitutional law. His research focuses on how legal rules affect innovation and the deployment of new technologies. Sprigman’s widely cited academic works have had an influence on important aspects of copyright and trademark law, and often belie the conventional wisdom about intellectual property rights. He is also co-author (with Kal Raustiala) of The Knockoff Economy (Oxford, 2012), a book exploring the role that copying plays in creativity, and (with Jeanne C. Fromer) of a leading copyright textbook, Copyright Law: Cases and Materials (third edition, 2021). Sprigman is also a member and co-founder of Lex Lumina PLLC, a law firm specializing in intellectual property.

 

3:00 PM–4:00 PM

PANELS

What Do Publisher Really Want?

After Donald Trump and COVID, in the midst of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism movements, and as publishers consolidate and turn to new technology, what kind of biographical works are they hoping to publish?

Moderator
Max Boot is a historian, bestselling author and foreign policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post. His latest work of history, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam (Norton/Liveright, 2018), was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in biography. He is at work on a biography of Ronald Reagan.

Panelists
Mary S. Conley is the Associate Acquisitions Editor at University of Missouri Press.

Emily Cunningham

Priscilla Painton is the vice president of Simon and Schuster. She came to publishing in 2008 after 28 years as a journalist, and her numerous best sellers show not just her passion for being ahead of the story, but also for revealing what’s behind it. She has published books by Hillary Rodham Clinton (What Happened, The Book of Gutsy Women also with Chelsea Clinton) and by John Bolton (The Room Where It Happened), as well books that dig deep into big corporations (Kochland by Christopher Leonard), Supreme Court showdowns (Supreme Ambition by Ruth Marcus), Russian treachery (Bill Browder’s Red Notice), class in America (Janesville by Amy Goldstein), and even First Ladies, including Michelle (about Michelle Obama) by Liza Mundy, The Art of Her Deal (about Melania Trump) by Mary Jordan, and the forthcoming Nancy Reagan biography by Karen Tumulty.

 

Celebrity Biography

How is writing about celebrities any different from other biography subjects? How do you evaluate what someone is famous for? How do you find the human being behind the fame? How do you approach the part of the life that comes when the subject is no longer in fame’s limelight?

Moderator
Kate Buford is the author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf, 2010), the award-winning New York Times Editors’ Choice biography of the greatest multi-sport athlete at the dawn of American organized sports. She also wrote the New York Times Editors’ Choice best-seller Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf, 2000), the story of one of Hollywood’s great stars and the indie producer who changed the way movies were made. A Californian come east, Kate earned an MS in information/library science at Columbia, worked as a law librarian on Wall Street (Cravath; Davis Polk; Willkie Farr), a vice president at the NYC global corporate communications firm of Finsbury, a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace, and contributor to many publications, television shows, and documentaries.

Panelists
Kitty Kelley, an internationally acclaimed writer, has written ten books, including seven biographies, all #1 New York Times bestsellers. As a biographer, Kelley has been honored with several awards: the American Society of Journalists and Authors for Outstanding Author Award for “courageous writing on popular culture”; the Phillip M. Stern Award for “outstanding service to writers and the writing profession”; the 2005 PEN Oakland Censorship Award for The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, and the 2011 International Book Award for Oprah: A Biography. Currently, Kelley reviews books online for Washington Independent Review of Books, which appear later in print The Georgetowner. Her website is www.kittykelleywriter.com.

Alan K. Rode (pronounced Roe-Dee) is a noted film scholar. He produces and hosts cinema events while producing classic film commentaries and documentaries. His biography Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, recently published in paperback, received rave reviews from the New York Review of Books, among other outlets. He also wrote Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy and is the producer and host of the annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. Alan is a charter director and treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring lost films from the classic film noir era.  His website: www.alankrode.com

Steven C. Smith is an Emmy-nominated documentary producer, author, and speaker who specializes in Hollywood history and profiles of contemporary filmmakers. He is the author of two acclaimed biographies: Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer (Oxford University Press), and A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann (University of California Press). The latter received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and was the main research source for the Academy Award-nominated documentary Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann. A four-time Emmy nominee and sixteen-time Telly Award winner, Steven has produced and written over 200 documentaries. They include The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg; The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia; A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy; and Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.

4:00 PM–4:30 PM

PLUTARCH AWARD PRESENTATION

Presentation of the Plutarch Award by Nigel Hamilton, Chair of the Plutarch Committee; brief closing remarks by Linda Leavell, President of BIO (prerecorded; available after 4:00 PM).

4:30 PM–5:30 PM

Social Hour

Live on Zoom

Panelists

Barbara Allen is an accomplished filmmaker whose documentary films have been screened around the world, including at the Cannes Film Festival and the Pan African Film and Television Festival. With over a dozen Emmy Awards to her credit, her 2010 award winning film, DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis, broke PBS pledge records. As a Knight Journalism Fellow at Sanford University, Allen used virtual reality (VR) technology to recreate the harrowing experiences of Hurricane Katrina survivors, and she has shot other VR projects and web-based shorts. Currently, she is working on Red Summer/Winter Blues, a film exploring the untold story of Black resistance, uprising and awakening.

Debby Applegate is a historian and biographer whose first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and American Heritage Magazine. Her second book, Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age, was released by Doubleday in November, 2021. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, workplace writer Bruce Tulgan.

Patricia Aufderheide, Ph.D., is University Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. A historian by training, she founded the School’s Center for Media & Social Impact, where she continues as Senior Research Fellow. Her books include Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago, second edition, 2018), with Peter Jaszi. She and Jaszi have facilitated, for creative communities including nonfiction authors, teachers, librarians and filmmakers, more than a dozen codes of best practices in fair use, all available at cmsimpact.org/fair-use.

Edward Ball is the author of six books of history and biography that tell stories about enslavement, white and Black family history, genetics, and other subjects. His first book, Slaves in the Family (1998), an account of his family’s history as slaveholders in Charleston, South Carolina, received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. His most recent, Life of a Klansman (2020), is a biography of a marauder in the Ku Klux Klan, Edward’s great-grandfather, a carpenter in New Orleans who fought to restore white supremacy to Louisiana during Reconstruction. Edward Ball has taught at Yale University and the State University of New York, and has been awarded fellowships by the Radcliffe Institute, at Harvard, and at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center.

Andrea Barnet is the author of Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Changed Our World, a finalist for the 2019 PEN/Bograd Weld Award for Biography and one of Booklist’s four “2018 Editors’ choice for biography” selections. Her previous book,  All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930, was a Lambda Literary award finalist. Her journalism has appeared in the New York Times, where she was a regular contributor for twenty-five years, Smithsonian Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, and The Toronto Globe and Mail, among other publications. She splits her time between the Hudson Valley and New York City.

Nicholas Boggs, a 2021-2022 NEH Long-Term Fellow at the New York Public Library, is also the recipient of a Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship, a Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship from Biographer’s International Organization, and a Visiting U.S. Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. Co-editor of James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (2018), he is currently at work on a Baldwin biography, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Max Boot is a historian, bestselling author and foreign policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post. His latest work of history, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam (Norton/Liveright, 2018), was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in biography. He is at work on a biography of Ronald Reagan.

Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities  and Professor of History at Rice University, CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as their official U.S. Presidential Historian. His recent book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize while The Great Deluge:  Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.  He has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link–Warren F. Kuehl Prize.  He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.

Craig Brown is the author of Hello Goodbye Hello; 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, which won the James Tait Black Award for Nonfiction; and, most recently, 150 Glimpses of The Beatles, which won the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize. He has written for many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the TLS, the New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair. For over thirty years, he has written the parodic diary in Private Eye magazine. He divides his time between Bloomsbury in London and Aldeburgh in Suffolk.

Kate Buford is the author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe (Knopf, 2010), the award-winning New York Times Editors’ Choice biography of the greatest multi-sport athlete at the dawn of American organized sports. She also wrote the New York Times Editors’ Choice best-seller Burt Lancaster: An American Life (Knopf, 2000), the story of one of Hollywood’s great stars and the indie producer who changed the way movies were made. A Californian come east, Kate earned an MS in information/library science at Columbia, worked as a law librarian on Wall Street (Cravath; Davis Polk; Willkie Farr), a vice president at the NYC global corporate communications firm of Finsbury, a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace, and contributor to many publications, television shows, and documentaries.

A’Lelia Bundles is the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, a New York Times Notable Book about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother and the inspiration for Self Made, the fictional Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer. Ms. Bundles is at work on The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, about her great-grandmother whose parties, arts patronage, and international travels helped define the era. A former network television executive and producer at ABC News and NBC News, she is on the advisory board of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and founder of the Madam Walker Family Archives.

Barbara Burkhardt is currently writing a biography of Garrison Keillor, under contract with St. Martin’s Press. She is also the author of William Maxwell: A Literary Life (University of Illinois Press, 2008), about The New Yorker magazine fiction editor and novelist. Over a period of ten years, Maxwell answered Barbara’s questions on his clattering Coronamatic while she sat at his side—and he would turn the typewriter stand around on its squeaky wheels so she could read his responses. The biography won widespread praise from the New York Times to The [London] Times. The Chicago Tribune named it one of the best books of 2005, calling it a “most distinguished . . . brilliant biography” with “deeply layered, supple, and clear prose.” As a follow-up, Barbara edited Conversations with William Maxwell (University of Mississippi Press, 2012), a compilation of Maxwell’s interviews and speeches, which includes the full transcript of her interviews with him.

Alexis Coe is a historian and the New York Times bestselling author of  You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George of Washington, now out in paperback,  and  Alice+Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis. She has contributed to the New Yorker, the New York Times, The New Republic, and many others, and can often be seen discussing presidential history on MSNBC and the History Channel.

Jennet Conant is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II, and the critically acclaimed 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, which won the “Spirit of the West” Literary Achievement Award. Her other books include the bestsellers The Irregulars and A Covert Affair. Her biography of her grandfather, Man of the Hour: James B. Conant, Warrior Scientist, was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “an outstanding portrait of a technocrat, at work and at home.”

Mary S. Conley is the Associate Acquisitions Editor at University of Missouri Press.

Laura Dassow Walls is Professor Emerita at the University of Notre Dame, where she taught American literature and the history and theory of ecological thought; previously she taught at Lafayette College and the University of South Carolina. Her biography Henry David Thoreau: A Life (Chicago 2017) received Phi Beta Kappa’s Christian Gauss Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Biography. Her other books include the award-winning Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (2009); Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth (2003); and Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (1995). Currently she is working on a literary biography of the American writer Barry Lopez.

Soyica Diggs Colbert is the Idol Family Professor of African American Studies and Performing Arts at Georgetown University.  She has had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Stanford University, Mellon Foundation, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library. Colbert is an Associate Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the author of  Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry,  Black Movements, and  The African American Theatrical Body.  She also served as a Creative Content Producer for The Public Theatre’s audio play,  shadow/land. Her research interests span the 19th-21st centuries, from Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé, and from poetics to performance.

Emily Cunningham

Rebecca Donner is the author of the New York Times bestselling book All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days was a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2021, a New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2021 by the Wall Street Journal, and was selected as a best book of the year by Time Magazine and The Economist. Donner was a 2018-19 fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, is a two-time Yaddo fellow, and has twice been awarded fellowships by Ucross Foundation. She has taught at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and Barnard College. She is also the author of two critically acclaimed works of fiction, and was recently named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

Jonathan Eig is a former senior special writer for  The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including two highly acclaimed bestsellers, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season.  And Joyce Carol Oates referred to his book, Ali: A Life, as “an epic of a biography.”

Dr. Ashley D. Farmer is an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of  Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era.  Farmer’s scholarship has appeared in numerous venues including  The Black Scholar  and  The Journal of African American History. Her research has also been featured in several popular outlets including  Vibe,  NPR, The Chronicle Review, and the Washington Post. She is currently at work on Queen Mother Audley Moore: Mother of Black Nationalism, the first full-length biography of Moore whose career spanned nearly seventy years.

John A. Farrell is the author of Richard Nixon: The Life, which in 2017 won the PEN America award for best biography and the New York Historical Society book prize for the best volume of American history. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, Farrell published Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century, which won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress. His book Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best biography of 2012. He has also received a George Polk Award, a Gerald R. Ford Prize, and White House Correspondents honors for his coverage of the presidency.

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, 2016) 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, the  San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, and others. 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.

David Garrow is also the author of Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (Macmillan, 1994) and Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Morrow, 1986), which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the seventh annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Garrow is also the author of  The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Norton, 1981) and Protest at Selma (Yale University Press, 1978), as well as editor of  The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson (University of Tennessee Press, 1987); and other books. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Garrow graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University in 1975 and received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1981.

Caleb Gayle is an award-winning journalist and Professor of Practice at Northeastern University who writes about race and identity. He is a fellow at New America and PEN America, a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, and a winner of the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award. Gayle’s writing has appeared in  The New York Times Magazine,  The Atlantic,  The Guardian,  Guernica, and other publications. His debut work, We Refuse to Forget, comes out June 7, 2022, with Riverhead Books.

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is the author or editor of nine books, including 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 appeared many times on British and American radio and television, and on podcasts. For 15 years she hosted the nationally-syndicated radio show “The Book Show.” She is currently the Paul Kendall Murray Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Blake Gopnik has been the staff art critic at the Globe and Mail, the Washington Post, and Newsweek and is now a regular contributor to the New York Times. Warhol, his comprehensive biography of the Pop artist, was published by Ecco at HarperCollins in 2020. While working on 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. Gopnik has a Ph.D. in art history from Oxford University.

Allen C. Guelzo is senior research scholar at the Council of Humanities at Princeton University. He is the author of several books about the Civil War and early 19th-century American history. He has been the recipient of the Lincoln Prize three times, the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize for Military History, and many other honors. His Robert E. Lee: A Life, a timely and widely praised reappraisal of the Confederate general, was published by Knopf in 2021.

Phoebe Hoban’s books include biographies of the artists Jean Michel Basquiat (Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art) and Alice Neel (Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty). She also the author of Eyes Wide Open, a 195-page full biography of Lucian Freud.

Miriam Horn is an author, journalist, filmmaker, and conservationist. She has written three collective biographies: of the women of Wellesley ’69 (Hillary’s class); inventors at the cutting edge of clean energy; and unlikely conservationists in the American heartland. The last was made into a documentary, which Horn produced; Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman premiered at Sundance. Horn has written for the New York Times and many other publications, and spent two decades working for the U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Defense Fund. She is now at work for Penguin Press on the first-ever biography of George Schaller, who transformed field biology and our understanding of animals.

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. He is currently at work on a history of the U.S. Capitol.

Mary Jordan is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The Washington Post and a bestselling author. Her book, Trump on Trial, coauthored with her husband and Washington Post colleague Kevin Sullivan, features reporting from dozens of Washington Post journalists, and traces the investigation, acquittal, and aftermath of the impeachment of Donald Trump. Jordan’s New York Times bestselling book, The Art of Her Deal, an unauthorized biography of Melania Trump, was published in June 2020. Jordan and Sullivan are also authors of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, the story of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, who were kidnapped in Cleveland and held for a decade. They previously wrote The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia’s Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail. They were the Washington Post’s co-bureau chiefs in Tokyo, Mexico City, and London for fourteen years.

Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature, has published seven books, including 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 the definitive editions of Nella Larsen’s novels Passing and Quicksand. A Guggenheim and NEH “Public Scholar” Fellow, she has held fellowships from the Schomburg Center, the Cullman Center, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies, and elsewhere. Chair of the Signs editorial board, Kaplan founded Northeastern’s Humanities Center, is an NEH Humanities Advisor, a Fellow of the Society for American History, and is completing a biography of Jessica Mitford, forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Kitty Kelley, an internationally acclaimed writer, has written ten books, including seven biographies, all #1 New York Times bestsellers. As a biographer, Kelley has been honored with several awards: the American Society of Journalists and Authors for Outstanding Author Award for “courageous writing on popular culture”; the Phillip M. Stern Award for “outstanding service to writers and the writing profession”; the 2005 PEN Oakland Censorship Award for The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, and the 2011 International Book Award for Oprah: A Biography. Currently, Kelley reviews books online for Washington Independent Review of Books, which appear later in print The Georgetowner. Her website is www.kittykelleywriter.com.

As an independent journalist, Christopher Kenneally has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and many other publications. He also reported for WBUR-FM (Boston), National Public Radio, and WGBH-TV (PBS-Boston). He is author of Massachusetts 101 and The Massachusetts Legacy. He is also the host of “Velocity of Content,” a twice-weekly podcast from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). He is senior director of content marketing at CCC, where he develops content and programming covering publishing and research.

Bernice Lerner is the author of All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, a race-against-time rescue story that traces the journeys of Rachel Genuth (her mother), a teenager from the Hungarian provinces, and Glyn Hughes, a high-ranking British medical officer, over the last year of WWII. Other of Bernice’s works include The Triumph of Wounded Souls: Seven Holocaust Survivors’ Lives, and book chapters and articles on virtue ethics. Bernice formerly served as dean of adult learning at Hebrew College and as director of Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility. Her work in progress pertains to her father, a survivor of Hungarian forced labor, and President Harry Truman, who argued for the resettlement of European refugees in the United States.

David Maraniss is the author of Barack Obama and When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi. He is an associate editor at the Washington Post and the author of a dozen critically acclaimed bestselling books about history, politics, and sports. Among the most honored writers and journalists of his generation, Maraniss won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his reportage on Bill Clinton, was part of a Post team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy, and has been a Pulitzer finalist twice more for his journalism and once in history for They Marched into Sunlight. A fellow of the Society of American Historians and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University, Maraniss lives in Washington, D.C. and Madison, WI, with his wife, Linda.

Megan Marshall is the author of three biographical works: The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), winner of the Francis Parkman Prize, Mark Lynton History Prize, and Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction, as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography; Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction; and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), a finalist for the Christian Gauss Prize in Literary Criticism of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

She is also the first Charles Wesley Emerson College Professor at Emerson College in Boston, where she teaches narrative nonfiction, life writing, and the art of archival research in the MFA Creative Writing Program. Marshall is a passionate advocate for the genre of biography as well as a practitioner, and a founder of the New England Biography Series at the Massachusetts Historical Society, which has presented several public programs each year for over a decade on topics related to biographical research and writing. Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Atlantic, London Review of Books, New York Times Book Review, and Literary Hub. In support of her research and writing, Marshall has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, Bogliasco Foundation Study Center in Italy, and T. S. Eliot House in Gloucester, Massachusetts, as well as a visiting professorship at Kyoto University. She has lectured widely on her work and appeared in documentary films on Fuller, Thoreau, and Poe.

Kati Marton’s most recent book, The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel was a New York Times Notable Book of 2021. A former ABC News correspondent and Bureau Chief in Germany, Marton has written two memoirs and numerous other books, including Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, and a biography of Raoul Wallenberg. She has combined her career as a journalist and biographer with work in human rights advocacy.

Dr. Kevin McGruder, Associate Professor of history at Antioch is the author of  Philip Payton: The Father of Black Harlem, published by Columbia University Press in July 2021. During the 1990s, Kevin McGruder served as the director of real estate development for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a nonprofit church-based organization in Harlem, and he wrote a book about race and real estate in Harlem.

Andrew Meier is the author of Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall, The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin’s Secret Service, and Morgenthau: Power, Privilege and The Rise of An American Dynasty (forthcoming from Random House, Sept. 2022).  His first two books were named to a number of “Books of the Year” lists, and Black Earth was widely hailed as one of the best books on Russia to appear since the end of the USSR. His work has been recognized with fellowships from the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library, as well as from the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. A former Moscow correspondent for  Time, Meier has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and numerous other publications for more than two decades.

Susan Morrison is the editor of the anthology, Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers. She is currently at work on a biography of Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, to be published by Random House. Morrison is the recipient of a Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography and is the Articles Editor of the New Yorker, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to that, she was the editor in chief of The New York Observer and, in the ’80s, one of the founding editors of SPY Magazine.

Benjamin Moser was born in Houston. He is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book of 2009. For his work bringing Clarice Lispector to international prominence, he received Brazil’s first State Prize for Cultural Diplomacy. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017, and his latest book, Sontag: Her Life and Work, won the Pulitzer Prize.

David Nasaw is a historian and distinguished professor whose biographies include The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, which won the Bancroft Prize; Andrew Carnegie, which won the New York Historical Society’s American History book prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. His most recent publication is The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War. He recently retired as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., professor of history at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Marilyn Nelson is a poet, translator, and celebrated author of more than twenty books for adults and children. Her many award-winning books include, A Wreath for Emmett Till and Carver: A Life in Poems—a National Book Award finalist, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Carver also received the Flora Stieglitz Straus and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards. Nelson, a Guggenheim Fellow, previously served as Connecticut’s Poet Laureate. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, and her latest book, Augusta Savage: A Shape of a Sculptor’s Life (2022), is a biography written in poetic verse.

George Packer is the author of the award-winning biography Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, which won the Hitchens Prize, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His other books include The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2013. His latest book, Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal was released last June. He is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

Susan Page is the Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY and the author of Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, both New York Times bestsellers. She’s now working on a biography of Barbara Walters for Simon & Schuster. Her coverage of the presidency has been awarded the Merriman Smith Award for deadline writing, the Aldo Beckman Award for overall excellence, and the Gerald R. Ford Prize. She moderated the 2020 vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.

Priscilla Painton is the vice president of Simon and Schuster. She came to publishing in 2008 after 28 years as a journalist, and her numerous best sellers show not just her passion for being ahead of the story, but also for revealing what’s behind it. She has published books by Hillary Rodham Clinton (What Happened, The Book of Gutsy Women also with Chelsea Clinton) and by John Bolton (The Room Where It Happened), as well books that dig deep into big corporations (Kochland by Christopher Leonard), Supreme Court showdowns (Supreme Ambition by Ruth Marcus), Russian treachery (Bill Browder’s Red Notice), class in America (Janesville by Amy Goldstein), and even First Ladies, including Michelle (about Michelle Obama) by Liza Mundy, The Art of Her Deal (about Melania Trump) by Mary Jordan, and the forthcoming Nancy Reagan biography by Karen Tumulty.

Tamara Payne is the co-author of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, which won the National Book Award for best non-fiction in 2020 and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2021. It was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and was named a best book of the year by Time magazine, the Washington Post, and other publications. She was the primary researcher and co-author with her father, Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former editor and columnist at Newsday, who had pursued this project for nearly 30 years. When he passed away in 2018, she completed their work.

Mary Rasenberger is the CEO of the Authors Guild and Authors Guild Foundation. Prior to joining the Guild in November 2014, Mary practiced law for over 25 years in roles that spanned private practice, the government and corporate sector, as a recognized expert in copyright and media law. From 2002 to 2008 Mary worked for the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress as senior policy advisor and program director for the National Digital Preservation Program. Immediately prior to coming to the Guild in late 2014, Mary was a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, and previously Counsel at Skadden Arps, where she counseled and litigated on behalf of publishing, media, entertainment, and internet companies, as well as authors and other creators, in all areas of copyright and related rights. Earlier in her career, Mary worked at other major New York law firms and for a major record company. Mary is a frequent speaker, lecturer and writer on copyright law and authors’ rights. She is on the Council of the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section; an Advisor to the Executive Committee of the Copyright Society of the USA; a founder of Copyright Awareness Week, and an Adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Law, Copyright. Mary received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College, and her B.A. from Barnard College.

Alan K. Rode (pronounced Roe-Dee) is a noted film scholar. He produces and hosts cinema events while producing classic film commentaries and documentaries. His biography Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, recently published in paperback, received rave reviews from the New York Review of Books, among other outlets. He also wrote Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy and is the producer and host of the annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. Alan is a charter director and treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring lost films from the classic film noir era.  His website: www.alankrode.com

Carl Rollyson is the author of fourteen biographies for adults, and four biographies for children. His biographies of Rebecca West and Amy Lowell, and his study, A Higher Form of Cannibalism? Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography, were supported by NEH Fellowships. Three of his biographies—of Marilyn Monroe, Dana Andrews, and Walter Brennan—are part of the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi. His two-volume biography, The Life of William Faulkner, and The Last Days of Sylvia Plath, were both published in 2020. Website: carlrollyson.com; Podcast: https://anchor.fm/carl-rollyson.

Christopher L. Sagers is the James A. Thomas Professor of Law at Cleveland State University, specializing in antitrust law. He is the author of United States v. Apple: Competition in America (Harvard University Press, 2019).

Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer finalist; and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize. Her Cleopatra: A Life and The Witches, have both been #1 bestsellers. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019, she has been named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government.

Steven C. Smith is an Emmy-nominated documentary producer, author, and speaker who specializes in Hollywood history and profiles of contemporary filmmakers. He is the author of two acclaimed biographies: Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer (Oxford University Press), and A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann (University of California Press). The latter received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and was the main research source for the Academy Award-nominated documentary Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann. A four-time Emmy nominee and sixteen-time Telly Award winner, Steven has produced and written over 200 documentaries. They include The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg; The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia; A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy; and Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.

Christopher Jon Sprigman is the Murray and Kathleen Bring Professor of Law at New York University, where he teaches intellectual property law, antitrust law, torts, and comparative constitutional law. His research focuses on how legal rules affect innovation and the deployment of new technologies. Sprigman’s widely cited academic works have had an influence on important aspects of copyright and trademark law, and often belie the conventional wisdom about intellectual property rights. He is also co-author (with Kal Raustiala) of The Knockoff Economy (Oxford, 2012), a book exploring the role that copying plays in creativity, and (with Jeanne C. Fromer) of a leading copyright textbook, Copyright Law: Cases and Materials (third edition, 2021). Sprigman is also a member and co-founder of Lex Lumina PLLC, a law firm specializing in intellectual property.

David O. Stewart became a bestselling writer of history and historical fiction after many years as a trial and appellate lawyer. The Wall Street Journal called his George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father, “an outstanding biography,” providing “a narrative drive such a life deserves.” His other histories have explored the writing of the Constitution, the gifts of James Madison, Aaron Burr’s western expedition and treason trial, and the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. He has won the Washington Writing Award for best book, the History Prize of the Society of the Cincinnati (twice), the George Washington Memorial Award, and the Prescott Award of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

T.J. Stiles has received the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction, 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the 2016 Pulitzer for History, and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer for Biography. He is a past Guggenheim Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, and Gilder Lehrman Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He serves on the BIO advisory board, the Society of American Historians executive board, and the Authors Guild council. He is the author of biographies of Jesse James, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and George Armstrong Custer, and is writing a biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

Rachel L. Swarns is a journalist, author and professor and a contributing writer for the New York Times. She is the author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, a multigenerational biography published by Amistad/HarperCollins, and a co-author of Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives, published by Black Dog & Leventhal. Her forthcoming book, to be published by Random House, is a multigenerational biography of an enslaved family torn apart by the 1838 slave sale that saved Georgetown University from financial ruin. She is an associate professor of journalism at New York University and her work has been recognized and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the MacDowell artist residency program and others.

Julia Sweig is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight. She is an award-winning author of books on Cuba, Latin America, and American foreign policy. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and multiple other outlets. Her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution, won the American Historical Association’s award for best book by an independent scholar. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University. She is the creator, host, and executive producer of the podcast In Plain Sight, a co-production of Best Case Studios and ABC News.

Will Swift is a past president of BIO and the author of The Roosevelts and the Royals, The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm, and Pat & Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage.

Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy. Tye’s first book, The Father of Spin, is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L. Bernays. His Satchel (2009) is the biography of two American icons–Satchel Paige and Jim Crow. Superman (2012) tells the nearly real-life story of the most enduring American hero of the last century. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon (2016) explores RFK’s amazing transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist. Tye is now writing, for HarperCollins, The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Satchmo Armstrong and Count Basie Transformed America.

Amanda Vaill is the author of Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, the bestselling Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy—A Lost Generation Love Story, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, and Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. In addition to writing the screenplay for the Emmy– and Peabody Award–winning public television documentary Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, she has also written features and criticism for many publications, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Ted Widmer is an American historian, writer, librarian, and musician who served as a speechwriter in the Clinton White House, as director and librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and as director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He is a faculty member at the Macaulay Honors College, and his most recent biography is Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington.

Sonja Williams is a three-time Peabody Award-winning radio producer whose documentary productions, including episodes on the Jazz Profiles, Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was, and Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions series, were distributed by NPR, Public Radio International, and the Smithsonian Institution. She also is the author of Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom, a 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Award finalist. Williams has served as a journalist and media trainer in Africa, the Caribbean and throughout America. She is a professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Book Sales

Be sure to check out the conference bookstore on Bookshop.org, where you can purchase books by authors on the program and also the ten books on the Plutarch long list. Proceeds from book sales benefit BIO and independent bookstores.