Today I will revisit Rome, the final stop on my 2013 trip to walk in Woolson’s footsteps in England and Italy. I visited the Forum, saw the Coliseum, and battled with the crowds at the Vatican. (I gave up when I leaned my head back to look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel […]


Over the past two weeks, a flurry of emails and a phone call from my editor and her assistant has signaled that the production process for my biography has begun. Incredibly, Norton had its “launch” meeting for next winter’s titles last week. It’s hard to believe that the long process has already begun, one year […]


Publishing online is a quite an experience for an academic. Last week I published two pieces—one I had written a couple of months ago, the other I had written very recently. The first, a review of recent biographies about J. D. Salinger and Harper Lee at the Los Angeles Review of Books, was part of […]

Perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked, but I was when I read the Washington Post’s review of Karen Abbott’s new book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, about four women who participated in the Civil War. Jonathan Yardley compares what he sees as the book’s troubling passages to writing “borrowed from the pages of a women’s magazine.” Apparently, […]


I’ve been in my writing cocoon for a while now.  But I am happy to say that a full draft of the manuscript of my Woolson biography is complete and now in the hands of my brilliant editor, Amy Cherry at Norton. I feel an odd mixture of relief and trepidation. A tremendous weight has […]

The working title for my biography of Woolson obviously refers to Henry James’s now-classic novel. Let me explain why I chose it. After reading The Portrait of a Lady, Woolson wrote to the author about his heroine, Isabel Archer, “With no character of yours have I ever felt myself so much in sympathy.” She experienced […]