January 30, 2023; New York, NY– A distinguished panel of judges from the Biographers International Organization (BIO) has selected 10 nominees for the 11th annual Plutarch Award, the only international literary award for biography judged exclusively by biographers. This year’s Plutarch Award Committee members are Deirdre David, Roy Foster, Charlotte Jacobs, Tamara Payne, and Will Swift.
Deirdre David, chair of the committee, says, “The judges this year were impressed by the remarkable variety and stellar quality of the books on our longlist. They showcase a diversity of subjects, intrepid scholarship, and an admirable illumination of both cultural and political achievement in an historical context. They also offer examples of the skills that enhance the art and craft of biography: how to work around black holes in a subject’s life and how to present a fresh portrait of a well-known figure in addition to bringing forth relatively unknown subjects to vivid life. The longlist books provide splendid evidence of how to write movingly and creatively about vastly different personalities representing many fields of accomplishment. We are pleased to present biographies about a poet, a novelist, a choreographer, a portrait painter, a civil rights lawyer, an iconic US president, a revolutionary, a US senator, an FBI G-man, and a misunderstood British monarch.”
This year’s ten nominees, in alphabetical order by author’s name, are:
Tomiko Brown-Nagin CIVIL RIGHTS QUEEN: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality (Pantheon Books)
John A. Farrell TED KENNEDY: A Life (Penguin Press)
Paul Fisher THE GRAND AFFAIR: John Singer Sargent in His World
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Beverly Gage G-MAN: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century
Jennifer Homans MR. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century (Random House)
Jon Meacham AND THERE WAS LIGHT: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle (Random House)
Jane Ridley GEORGE V: Never a Dull Moment
Katherine Rundell SUPER-INFINITE: The Transformations of John Donne
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Stacy Schiff THE REVOLUTIONARY: Samuel Adams
(Little, Brown and Company)
Miranda Seymour I USED TO LIVE HERE ONCE: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys
Detailed information for each longlisted title, including the Committee’s notes, is available HERE. Detailed information regarding this year’s BIO Conference can be found HERE.
Following the announcement of the ten nominees, BIO’s Plutarch Committee will narrow the list to five finalists. The 2023 Plutarch Award for the best biography of 2022—honoring a writer who has achieved distinction in the craft—will be revealed during the annual BIO Conference on May 19-21, 2023, which will be held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.