Category Archives: Biography

One Art: Letters

Years ago, I bought a copy of One Art: Letters for my husband. How many years? I’m not sure: it came out in 1994, but it was probably not quite so long ago as that. Ten years ago? Twelve? Anyway, he … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Poetry | 17 Comments

Elizabeth and Hazel

David Margolick’s book, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, revolves around the by-now iconic civil rights photograph of two fifteen-year-old girls:           This photo, taken by journalist Will Counts, shows Elizabeth Eckford, one of … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, History, Nonfiction | 12 Comments

Louisa May Alcott

I’ve posted here before that the book I’ve re-read most in my life is probably Little Women. I started reading it when I was about ten or eleven, and I’ve read it over and over since then, understanding it differently … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, History, Nonfiction | 20 Comments

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

At age 30, the poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide, leaving behind two children, a husband from whom she’d separated, and a body of work that he would be left to guard, along with both their reputations. Plath’s husband, the poet … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 19 Comments

How to Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted! I’ve been teaching January Term at my university, and it’s an intense class: three hours a day every day, plus all the concomitant prepping and grading, plus I’m still department … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 10 Comments

A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

When you think of the great 19th-century explorers of Africa, what names spring to mind? Livingston, Stanley, and Burton, sure. Speke, Denham, and Baker, if you’ve done your reading. But Heinrich Barth? Who’s he? In A Labyrinth of Kingdoms, Steve … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | Tagged | 11 Comments

The Hare With Amber Eyes

I read Edmund De Waal’s family biography after seeing a rave review of it over at Eve’s Alexandria. Victoria loved this book about the Ephrussi family’s generations-long ownership of 264 Japanese netsuke, loved it so much that she didn’t want … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, History, Memoir, Nonfiction | 4 Comments

Young Romantics

There is, I think, a myth about creative genius that it takes place in solitary glory. Picture an author, writing. Picture Hemingway, or Wordsworth, or Shakespeare; picture George Eliot or Mary Oliver or Isabelle Allende. In my mind, unless I … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, History, Nonfiction | 27 Comments

Jane Austen

A few years ago, I was on a three-week-long hiking trip with students, doing a portion of the pilgrimage trail of St. James of Compostella. We had to pack light, as you can imagine: we would rue any extra weight … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 13 Comments

Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings

I grew up reading the Anne of Green Gables series. I read the first one when I was about eight, and then read them over and over: Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne of … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 20 Comments