Tag Archives: Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzers and Plutarchs

The 2014 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, and I’m thrilled with the winners for a couple of reasons. First, as vice president of Biographers International Organization (BIO), I’m delighted that this year’s winner was BIO member Megan Marshall, for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. Megan’s been a steady, supportive force in BIO for years, and I’m so thrilled for her — as the saying goes, it really couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. (And if you want an opportunity to congratulate Megan in person, she’ll be attending BIO’s annual conference on May 17, which you can sign up for right here. Just sayin’.)

Speaking of good things happening to nice people, here’s the second reason I’m thrilled for this year’s Pulitzer winners: my editor at Random House, Ryan Doherty, also happened to edit another pretty spectacular book released in 2013, Dan Fagin’s Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, which won the Pulitzer for Nonfiction.  As soon as I saw the announcement, I immediately sent Ryan an e-mail of congratulations, and completely stunned him, as he hadn’t even heard yet. To say I’m excited for Ryan would be an understatement; he’s a creative and hard-working editor, and I’m so pleased for him and Dan Fagin.

Meanwhile, back over at BIO, we’ve announced the ten nominees for the Plutarch Award, our annual prize given for the Best Biography of the Year. I’m honored and humbled to have Jim Henson among the nominees — and it’s such an interesting list that I’m going to reproduce the full roster of nominees here.* In alphabetical order by author, then, the nominees for Best Biography of 2013 are:

Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson (Doubleday)

Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana (Simon & Schuster)

Wilson by A. Scott Berg (Putnam)

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee, Jr. (Little,Brown)

Jonathan Swift: His Life And His World by Leo Damrosch (Yale)

Gabriele D’Annunzio: Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallet (Knopf)

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (Ballantine)

Holding On Upside Down: The Life And Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore (Knopf)

Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center by Ray Monk (Doubleday)

Like the Nebula award, we turn the voting for the award over to our membership, and the winner will be announced at our conference on May 17.  I’ll be sure to let you know the winner at that time.

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* Disclaimer: while I’m an officer for BIO, I have no role in selecting the nominees for the Plutarch.

Conference Call

A few things.

First, here’s a laurel and hearty handshake extended to T.J. Stiles, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Stiles pulled off a literary hat trick, of sorts, by having his biography awarded both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award for non-fiction.  Plus he’s a Caro fan, which gives him even more points in my book.  Not that he needed them. Anyway, congratulations all around.

Speaking of Pulitzer Prize winners (watch what I do here), we’re less than a month away from the first Compleat Biographer Conference, hosted by the Biographers International Organization (BIO) in Boston on May 15.  It’s your chance to immerse yourself in biography for a day, talking with, listening to and learning from some of the best — including interim BIO President and Pulitzer Prize winner Debby Applegate, the aforementioned T.J. Stiles, Charles J. Shields, Kitty Kelley, James McGrath Morris, and tons more.  It’s a daylong series of workshops and panel discussion on the practical aspects of the craft and art of biography, including a session with agents who represent biographies and non-fiction.  Come on, it’ll be fun.

For more information on the conference, go here.  While you’re at it, stroll over to the home page for The Biographer’s Craft — soon to be the official newsletter of BIO — and put yourself on the mailing list.