The Leon Levy Center Announces 2023-2024 Biography Fellows

April 12, 2023

Five writers, including a Graduate Center alumnus, receive the distinguished fellowships.

Kai Bird, the executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, announced today the award of five resident fellowships at the Graduate Center, including the fifth Leon Levy/Alfred P. Sloan fellow for a biography on a figure from science. Mr. Bird, a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer, is most recently the author of The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter. A major motion picture version of his biography of Robert Oppenheimer, American Prometheus, will be released this summer. The Leon Levy Center for Biography is hosted by the Graduate Center at The City University of New York — and generously funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. Each resident fellow receives a $72,000 grant, research assistance, writing space, and full access to research facilities. The five Leon Levy Biography fellows, including the Levy/Sloan fellow, for 2023–2024 are:

Headshot of Donald Brown, Leon Levy Center 2023-2024 Biography Fellow

Donald Brown is a postdoctoral fellow in the English Department at Brown University. He specializes in 20th-century Black American literature, and his essays on the way Black Southerners fought for the right to flourish in their region of birth even during the Great Migration have been published in Southern Cultures, Mississippi Quarterly, the Southern Historical Association, and various edited collections. Donald is working on a biography of Richard Wright, which will be published by Hanover Square Press.


Headshot of Bill Goldstein, Leon Levy Center 2023 -2024 Biography Fellow. Photo credit Bill Hayes

Bill Goldstein is writing a biography of Larry Kramer, to be published by Crown. He is the author of The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year that Changed Literature, published in 2017. He reviews books and interviews authors for NBC's Weekend Today in New York, and was the founding editor of The New York Times books website. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Goldstein received a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. He was a 2019–2020 fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, and has received a Silvers Grant for Work in Progress from The Robert B. Silvers Foundation (2020) and the Robert and Ina Caro Research/Travel Fellowship from Biographers International Organization (2022).


Headshot of Claire Hoffman, Leon Levy Center 2023-2024 Biography Fellow

Claire Hoffman is the author of the reported memoir, Greetings from Utopia Park. As a journalist, she has written for many magazines about culture, religion, celebrity, business, and more. A former staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone, she holds an M.A. in religion from the University of Chicago, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from NYU. As a Leon Levy Fellow, she will complete a biography of famed Hollywood evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Headshot of Julie Phillips, Leon Levy Center 2023-2024 Biography Fellow. Photo credit: chrisvanhouts

Julie Phillips is the author of The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem, on the convergence of writing, art, and maternal selfhood. Her previous book was the NBCC and Hugo Award-winning James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Granta, Slate, and Lithub, and she is a regular contributor to 4Columns and the Dutch daily paper Trouw. She lives in Amsterdam and is working on a biography of Ursula K. Le Guin.


Headshot of Michelle Frank, Leon Levy Center 2023-2024 Biography Fellow

Levy/Sloan Fellow Michelle Frank is a writer focusing on the intersections between science, art, and social justice. She has held fellowships with the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine and the Arthur & Helen Whiteley Center. She is the recipient of grants from Humanities New York, the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and the CUNY Graduate Center's Biography and Memoir program. Her work has appeared in Scientific American and elsewhere. She is writing a biography of the 20th-century Chinese American particle physicist Chien-Shiung Wu.