Category Archives: Biography

The Darkest Jungle

In Todd Balf’s book The Darkest Jungle, he explains that by 1854, after the spectacular and expensive failure of the Franklin expedition, the search for the Northwest Passage was sliding off the front pages. The new great hope was Panama. … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, History, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | 4 Comments

Thomas Hardy

I was irrationally worried when I started reading Claire Tomalin’s biography of Thomas Hardy. You see, Hardy is my favorite writer, and I didn’t want to find out he was terrible, that he kicked puppies or something. Generally, I don’t … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 8 Comments

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