Spring Biographical Offerings

While the fall remains the favorite season for publishers to bring out their heavy hitters, there is no lack of substantial and important biographies on the spring list of 2013. Here are some titles, among many, likely to garner considerable attention.

Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffrey Frank will be published by Simon & Schuster this month and was touted in a recent issue of the New Yorker. In April the company will bring out the long-awaited Bolivar: American Liberator by former Washington Post book editor Marie Arana.

American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson was published in January by St. Martin’s Press. Two other books about the poet will follow it. Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson will be published by Scribner this month, and Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder will come out from Harper in April.

Another female writer on the list of subjects for the spring is Jane Austen (can one ever have too many books on her?). The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne, came out in January from Harper.

Along the lines of calling a biography “real,” Henry Holt published Andrew Marr’s The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II last month.

A forgotten American president gets his due this month, when Harper delivers Amity Shlaes’s Coolidge and next month, Encounter Books offers a companion book, Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President by Charles C. Johnson.

Megan Marshall’s Margaret Fuller: A New American Life will be published in March by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Last year, Fuller was the subject of John Matteson’s most recent biography. Andrea Pitzer’s The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov will also be published in March by Houghton.

Blake Bailey, biographer of John Cheever, is back with a new work with the unusual title Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson, which Knopf will publish in March.

For readers old enough to remember what television was once like, in April Viking is bringing out Flip: The Inside Story of TV’s First Black Superstar by Kevin Cook.

Recording artist, songwriter, entrepreneur, voice actor, record producer, educator, and philanthropist William James Adams’s life is the subject of Will.i.am: The Unauthorized Biography by Danny White from publisher Michael O’Mara [Note to editor: That’s not a typo in the title].

For readers who loved the old American Heritage magazine, Scribner is publishing I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow, who edited the magazine in its heyday.

Yale University continues its tradition of producing attention-getting biographies. It already began the season with biographies of two noted subjects: The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby and Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson by Barbara Ransby

On the heels of David Nasaw’s biography of Joseph Kennedy, out last fall, comes Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch by Barbara A. Perry, which W. W. Norton & Company will publish in July.

Biography Club prize winner Clare Mulley’s The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville will come out in June in an American edition by St. Martin’s Press.

And, lastly, for those who once drove a car with an eight-track tape player, comes The Bee Gees: The Biography by David N. Meyer from Da Capo Press

Click here for a detailed listing of more than fifty spring 2013 biographies on the BIO website.