Biography Conference Convenes Top Writers to Mingle and Share Advice

May 11, 2023

The event this month, open to the Graduate Center community, features several Graduate Center scholars.

People clapping at tables.
The 2023 BIO conference will take place at the Graduate Center May 19–21. (Photo courtesy of BIO)

At its annual conference, Biographers International Organization, or BIO, brings together some of the best-known biographers to share their wisdom on the writing, research, and selling of biography.

Open to Graduate Center students and scholars, as well as members of the public, the gathering gives experienced and up-and-coming writers an opportunity to meet and mingle and learn from one another. This year’s conference, on May 19–21, co-sponsored by the Graduate Center’s Leon Levy Center for Biography, features several Graduate Center-affiliated scholars and writers, including:

Distinguished Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook (GC/John Jay, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, Biography and Memoir) will converse with Beverly Gage of Yale University during the James Atlas Plenary on May 20. Wiesen Cook is the author of a definitive three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt: Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol I The Early Years 1884 – 1933; Vol II The Defining Years 1933- 1938; Vol III The War Years and After 1939 -1962. The first two volumes were New York Times bestsellers, and the books and series received several awards and glowing reviews.

Learn More About and Register for the 2023 BIO Conference

Alumna Patricia Laurence (Ph.D. ’89, English), professor emerita at The City College of New York, and author of several biographies, including, most recently, Elizabeth Bowen, A Literary Life, will moderate the panel “Crossing Borders: Issues in Writing a Transnational Biography.”

The panel includes Distinguished Professor Emerita Mary Ann Caws (English, French, Comparative Literature, Women's and Gender Studies, Biography and Memoir), author of several books including, most recently, Mina Loy: Apology of Genius. Past books include Picasso's Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar and Blaise Pascal: Miracles and Reason.

Lisa Napoli, a student in the master’s program in Biography and Memoir, will moderate the panel “Book Promotion in the Age of Social Media.” She is the author of a memoir and three biographies, including her most recent, Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR. As a journalist, she’s worked at The New York Times, MSNBC, and public radio’s Marketplace.

Learn More About the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir


Biography conference, two women conversing
The annual BIO conference brings together experienced and up-and-coming writers to network and share advice. (Photo courtesy of BIO)

Three former Leon Levy Center for Biography fellows will also speak on conference panels. They are Ruth Franklin, whose biography Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography; Abigail Santamaria, author of Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis; and Eric K. Washington, author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal, which won the Herbert H. Lehman Prize and the GANYC Apple Award. Kai Bird, executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, will offer a welcome to conference participants on May 20.

Learn More About the Leon Levy Center for Biography

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