Biography

The most definitive biography to date of the poet Pablo Neruda, a moving portrait of one of the most intriguing and influential figures in Latin American history.

May 3 has been designated as World Press Freedom Day in recognition of a "free, pluralistic and independent press" and its essential part of a democratic society. Indeed, the purpose of journalism, said Chicago newspaper columnist and humorist Peter Finley Dunne in the early 1900s, is to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."  And in the words of President Barack Obama: "Journalists give all of us as citizens the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments. That makes us better, it makes us stronger, it gives voice to the voiceless,  it exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me accountable."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. At the time of his murder, King was a polarizing figure -- scorned by many white Americans, worshipped by some African Americans and liberal whites, and deemed irrelevant by many black youth. In The Heavens Might Crack, historian Jason Sokol traces the diverse responses, both in America and throughout the world, to King's death. Whether celebrating or mourning, most agreed that the final flicker of hope for a multiracial America had been extinguished. A deeply moving account of a country coming to terms with an act of shocking violence.

Julie Harris takes viewers into Emily Dickinson's everyday world in a small New England town, from her father's mansion in Amherst, Massachusetts, to Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College, to couple and contrast facts and insights about the poet.

One of the most-recognized figures in American literary history: poet, patriot, and faithful advocate of democracy. But in his own time, critics denounced Walt Whitman as a "lunatic raving in pitiable delirium." This "American experience" production tells Whitman's life story, from his working class childhood in Long Island to his years as a newspaper reporter in Brooklyn when he struggled to support his impoverished family, then to his reckless pursuit of the attention and affection he craved for his work, to his death in 1892 at the age of 72.

An exploration into the life and work of the iconic American, Carl Sandburg. From an impoverished youth on the prairie of Illinois to the halls of Congress and international notoriety, it was a tale of perseverance and success. During his lifetime he was revered, becoming one of the most successful writers of the 20th century, but when he died in 1967, his legacy suffered an unusual an inexplicably fast decline. His work was disparaged and his remarkable life all but forgotten..

National Poetry Month Biographies

Celebrate National Poetry Month by getting to know more about the lives of some of our greatest poets:
 

Longfellow: a rediscovered life by Charles C. Calhoun

 

 

Yeats's ghosts: the secret life of W.B. Yeats by Brenda Maddox

 

 

 

 

Dylan Thomas: a new life by Andrew Lycett

 

 

 

 

From noon to starry night: a life of Walt Whitman by Philip Callow

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed reading about Luciana Vega, the American Girl character who goes to Space Camp, you might be interested in these titles.

 

Fiction

I love you, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

In 1969, as her own family is falling apart, ten-year-old Mamie finds comfort in conducting a one-sided correspondence with the least famous astronaut heading toward the moon on Apollo 11.

Educated : a memoir by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. 

In The New Negro : The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States.

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