The Biographer's Craft 
An occasional newsletter for
writers & readers of biography
March 2007
Vol. 1, No. 1
The Award Season Opens

Oppenheimer book cover The 2006 winners of the National Book Critics Circle for biography will be announced at the annual ceremony in New York on March 8. bookcritics

Last year's winner Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin's biography of Oppenheimer went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

This year's Pulitzer Prizes will be awarded on April 16. pulitzerprize

Here are the 2006 NBCC award finalists for biography:

  • Debby Applegate: The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (Doubleday)
  • Taylor Branch, At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968 (Simon& Schuster)
  • Frederick Brown, Flaubert: A Biography (Little, Brown)
  • Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (St.Martin's Press)
  • Jason Roberts, A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler (HarperCollins)
Sick Subjects
ill bk cover

Biographers often engage in medical, and sometime psychological, forensics. A new book might prove useful. Why Do People Get Ill? Exploring the Mind-Body Connection by Darian Leader and David Corfield was reviewed in the London Times, February 18, 2007. londontimes

FDR, Astor, Einstein, Wharton, Ellison & Other Lives on the Way
wharton Adam Begley reports in the New York Observer on a slew of biographies heading for the stores this spring.
Among them is a biography of Franklin Roosevelt by Jean Edward Smith (Random House) and one of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee (Knopf). Lee is also the author of the terrific Virginia Woolf's Nose: Essays on Biography.
The list, however, does again show that publishing house continue their love affair with biographies of figures that have already been the subject of countless biographies. It may be the publishing business's equivalent of Hollywood's passion to bring out new versions of old classic films. But who can blame them? These books do sell.
[Editorial note: Constant Contact, which distributes this newsletter, is blocking links to the New York Observer. Apparently it has something to do with a problem between the two companies. As a result to read Begley's article you will need to go to New York Observer web site (hint: it's the paper's name, "Observer", followed by dot com) and look at the March 5 edition, specifically the spring review section.) If that fails, drop me a line at and I will email you the link. Welcome to the world of corporate censorship!
  Tips Corner
Research ideas contributed by readers

If you have not tried Archive Grid yet, you are missing out on a terrific archival search engine. It is a service of the Research Libraries Group
archivegrid and is available in most major libraries.

I used it when it first came on line and discovered a useful stash of papers in a small county historical society. What is terrific about Archive Grid is the amount of detail it provides when you do a search.

James McGrath Morris

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The Biographer's Craft is my monthly newsletter devoted to topics of interest to biographers and readers of biography.
You can participate in making this an interesting newsletter by submitting news items, links, and tips.
James McGrath Morris
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