The 2024 BIO Conference is Now in Progress!

The 2024 BIO Conference is now underway at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. You can view the digital conference program here.

The following events and sessions will be live-streamed for virtual attendees:

Thursday, May 16, 2024

4:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m.: Member Readings: BIO members read excerpts from their recent biographies.

4:45 p.m.–5:30 p.m.: Presentation Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowships, the Chip Bishop Fellowship, the Francis “Frank” Rollin Fellowships, and the Hazel Rowley Prize

Friday, May 17, 2024

8:40 a.m.–9 a.m.: Welcome, Kai Bird (Leon Levy Center for Biography) and Steve Paul (Biographers International Organization)

9:00 a.m.–10 a.m.: James Atlas Plenary, Tamara Payne and Thulani Davis in conversation

10:15 a.m.–11:15 a.m.: Panels Session I, Basics: “What Editors Want Today”: Amanda Vaill (Jerome Robbins, by Himself), moderator; Bob Bender (Simon & Schuster), Rakia Clark (Mariner Books/HarperCollins), Charles Spicer (St. Martin’s).

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Panels Session II, “Merging Biography and Memoir”: Linda M. Grasso (Equal Under the Sky), moderator; Megan Marshall (Elizabeth Bishop), Marnie Mueller (The Showgirl and the Writer).

[12:30 p.m.–2 p.m. lunch break]

2 p.m.–3 p.m.: Presentation of Plutarch Award and BIO Award

3:15 p.m.–4:15 p.m.: Panels Session III, Issues: “Intimacy and Boundaries”: Ruth Franklin (Anne Frank), moderator; Bill Goldstein (Larry Kramer), Kitty Kelley (Oprah), Abigail Santamaria (I Am Meg).

4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.: Panels Session IV, Business: “Research Tips From Award-Winning Writers”: Laurie Gwen Shapiro (Amelia Earhart), moderator; Debby Applegate (Madam), Emily Nussbaum (Cue the Sun), Annalyn Swan (Francis Bacon: Revelations), Rachel Swarns (The 272).

We will share videos of livestreamed events with registrants several weeks after the conference.

Register here.

2024 BIO Conference Registration Now Open!

Registration for the 2024 BIO Conference is now open. Co-sponsored with the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the two-day event will take place both in person and online May 16-17, 2024, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Please note: unlike previous years, the conference will take place on a Thursday and Friday; in addition, one of several optional tours will be offered on Saturday morning, May 18.

Attending in person provides rich opportunities for socializing with fellow biographers as well as choosing from a variety of panels for a cost of $245 before April 1 and $295 thereafter. For streaming access only to selected panels and presentations, members pay $49. Those in need of financial assistance may apply for a Chip Bishop Fellowship here.

You can find detailed program information here, and registration here.

Led by co-chairs Kate Clifford Larson and Elizabeth Taylor, the BIO Conference Program Committee has created inspired opportunities for discussions and learning.

The James Atlas Plenary on Friday morning will feature a conversation between authors Tamara Payne and Thulani Davis, who have each explored the life of Malcolm X in their work and who together will discuss topical issues and creative angles in biography. Payne, a BIO board member, was a principal researcher and co-author, with her late father, Les Payne, of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, which won a National Book Award in 2020 and a Pulitzer Prize in 2021. Davis, author of seven books and a film script for a documentary about W.E.B. Dubois, wrote the libretto for X, The Life & Times of Malcolm X, an opera by Anthony Davis first performed by New York City Opera in 1986 and reprised by the Metropolitan Opera in November 2023.

The 2024 BIO Award winner, to be announced soon, will deliver the keynote address on Friday afternoon.

Panels on biography basics, craft, and publishing—along with sessions on science, artificial intelligence, race, and other subjects—will take place on Friday. Offerings range from “Leadership in Times of Peril in Democracy” to “Intimacy & Boundaries.” Attendees will hear from noted biographers including Kai Bird, Amanda Vaill, John A. Farrell, Samuel Freedman, Tanisha C. Ford, Ruth Franklin, and many more.

The conference will again feature roundtables on many subjects, short readings of new books by members, presentations of the Biblio Award and fellowship winners, and the much-anticipated announcement of the Plutarch Award for the Best Biography of 2023. Opportunities for one-on-one coaching will be offered as well as a workshop on proposal writing.

BIO aims to provide a safe, welcoming environment for everyone. The Board of Directors asks all registrants to read the BIO Code of Conduct, included on the registration form, and agree to abide by it.

Please direct questions about registration to Michael Gately, BIO’s executive director.

Conference Photos Available for Purchase!

At this year’s BIO Conference, photographer Brennan Cavenough captured the event as never before, taking photos of members and panelists that make us wish we were at the conference all over again. Those photos are now available for viewing and purchase through Smugmug.

Click here to see the photos and find instructions on how to buy digital downloads or paper prints of your favorite shots. 

Biographers International Organization receives $1 million gift from famed biographer Kitty Kelley

Biographers International Organization (BIO) is thrilled to announce a gift of $1 million, to be given in increments of $200,000 over five years starting June 1, 2023, from famed biographer Kitty Kelley. BIO’s president Linda Leavell formally accepted the gift on May 20, 2023, during BIO’s annual Conference at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. BIO’s Long-range Planning Committee will oversee the gift and make recommendations for its application to the Board of Directors. This gift is the largest single contribution ever received by BIO.

Kitty Kelley is the best-selling author of multiple biographical works where she has displayed courage and deftness in writing unvarnished accounts of some of the most powerful figures in politics, media, and popular culture, including Oprah Winfrey, the Bush Family, the Royal Family, Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

For more than a dozen years Kelley has been a committed supporter of BIO, leading fundraising efforts, growing membership and seeking to raise awareness about the art and craft of biography. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of biography, Kelley recently received the 2023 BIO Award. “We admire her courage in speaking truth to power,” said Heather Clark, chair of the BIO Awards Committee, “and her determination to forge ahead with the story in the face of opposition from the powerful figures she holds accountable.”

Reflecting on the impact of this remarkable gift, BIO President (2019–2023) Linda Leavell states, “For BIO’s first decade of existence, we were an organization rich in enthusiasm but poor in funds. We have succeeded in raising more money, primarily for fellowships, in the four years since BIO became a nonprofit. Kitty’s gift is a game changer. BIO’s Long-range Planning Committee will consider options for spending and investing the gift and will make recommendations to BIO’s Board of Directors. We hope that Kitty’s gift will prompt other large donors to come forward and will ensure BIO’s service to biographers for years to come.”

Incoming BIO President Steve Paul is ecstatic over this significant gift. “We are immensely grateful for Kitty’s life-changing investment in BIO. It not only affirms our growing presence on the literary landscape, but it challenges us to become even more useful and responsive to our current and future members. We take her challenge seriously. To secure the organization’s future, we know we have a lot of work to do in setting priorities, making wise decisions, attracting more like-minded donors and more culturally diverse members, and furthering the essential and energizing art and craft of biography.”

Kitty Kelley explains that her gift springs from a lifetime of loving books. “Reading and writing biographies have enriched my life, and so I hope my endowment will enable BIO to continue sharing the gifts of life stories. For me, literacy is the foundation for a life of joy and purpose, and so this gift underwrites the future of Biographers International Organization to continue sharing that joy and purpose far into the future.”

Kitty continues, “Even in this era of artificial intelligence and changes in the digital ecosystem, biography remains a universal verity. The meaning might change, but the message remains universal. As President Kennedy said sixty years ago: ‘What makes journalism so fascinating and biography so interesting is the struggle to answer that single question: ‘What’s he like?’”

To learn more about BIO and its mission, or how you too can become involved,
please contact Michael Gately, Executive Director of BIO at: or visit
For further information or interview requests, please contact Jennifer Richards at Over the River Public Relations:


Biographers International Organization (BIO) was founded in 2009 to promote the art and craft of biography, cultivate a diverse community of biographers, encourage public interest in biography, and provide educational and fellowship opportunities that support the work of biographers worldwide. Activities include an annual conference, monthly and quarterly newsletters, a series of podcasts, online workshops, one-on-one coaching, fellowships for biographies in progress, and awards for outstanding achievement. 

The 2023 BIO Conference is Now in Progress!

The 2023 BIO Conference is now underway at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. You can view the digital conference program here.

The following events and sessions will be live-streamed for virtual attendees:

Friday, May 19, 2023

4:00pm – 4:45pm: Member Readings: BIO members read excerpts from their recent biographies.

4:45pm – 5:30pm: Presentations of the Biblio Award, Robert & Ina Caro Research / Travel Fellowships, the Chip Bishop Fellowship, the Frances “Frank” Rollin Fellowship, the Hazel Rowley Prize, and the Ray Shepard Award.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

8:40 – 9am: Welcome, Kai Bird (Leon Levy Center for Biography) and Linda Leavell (Biographers International Organization)

9:10am: James Atlas Plenary, Blanche Wiesen Cook and Beverly Gage in Conversation

10:15am – 11:15am: Panels Session I, “What Editors Want.” Will Swift, moderator; Amy Caldwell, William Frucht, John A. Glusman, Hilary Redmon.

11:30am – 12:30pm: Panels Session II, “Book Promotion in the Age of Social Media.” Lisa Napoli, moderator; Allison Gilbert, Brian Jay Jones.

[12:30 – 2pm lunch break]

2pm – 3pm: Presentation of Plutarch Award and BIO Award

3:15pm – 4:15pm: Panels Session III, “Secrets and Lives: Ethical Dilemmas in Biography.” Megan Marshall, moderator; Paul Fisher, Ruth Franklin, Abigail Santamaria.

4:30pm – 5:30pm: Panels Session IV, “Complicated Icons.” Carla Kaplan, moderator; David Maraniss, Tamara Payne, Stacy Schiff.

We will share videos of livestreamed events with registrants several weeks after the conference.

Register here.

Registration for the 2023 BIO Conference is Now Open!

The 2023 BIO Conference, cosponsored by the Leon Levy Center for Biography, will be held May 19-21, 2023, in person at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  See the online program HERE and register through Eventbrite HERE.

The cost of registration is $245 for BIO members before April 1, $295 for BIO members after April 1, $345 for nonmembers, $49 for online only for members, and $99 for online only for nonmembers. Those in need of financial assistance may apply for a Chip Bishop Fellowship here.

Full refunds are available until April 1; half refunds are available until May 1; no refunds on May 1 or later.

Announcing a New BIO Event—Biography Lab 2023: An Online Forum on Craft

Biography Lab 2023: An Online Forum on Craft is a one-day, online conference that will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2023.

BIO’s Board of Directors created this event, which we hope will become annual, in direct response to the feedback we received after the May 2022 online BIO Conference. While many BIO members are eager to meet in person again, many others urged us to preserve some aspects of the online conference for those unable to travel. Our post-conference survey indicated that learning biographical craft is the number one reason participants attend the Conference.

Biography Lab 2023 will feature a keynote by Dame Hermione Lee on “Biographical Choices.” Three other distinguished biographers will conduct individual 90-minute sessions on aspects of biographical craft. Eric K. Washington will lead one on finding a subject’s unwritten voice;  T. J. Stiles will discuss characterization; and Caroline Fraser will direct hers on incorporating history into biographies. Each of these sessions will allow plenty of time for questions from participants. The day will conclude with an online social hour.

Best of all, the conference is offered at no charge to BIO members and to students. The fee for nonmembers is $60, which includes a year’s membership in BIO.

For more information about Biography Lab 2023, click here. To register, click here.

BIO 2022 Conference Registration is Open!

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.


Detailed session information is available here.

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.