Through its annual fellowships, the Leon Levy Center for Biography promotes the rigorous research and masterful writing of biographies. Fellows receive a stipend, attend workshopping seminars led by Executive Director Kai Bird, attend the Center’s public programs and gain access to the Graduate Center’s research offerings.
Former fellows who have published books worked on during their fellowships include:
- Adam Begley: “Updike”
- Alexandra Chasin: “Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger’s War on Drugs”
- James Davis: “Eric Walrond: A Life in the Harlem Renaissance and the Transatlantic Caribbean”
- Ruth Franklin: “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life”
- Langdon Hammer: “James Merrill: Life and Art”
- Elizabeth Kendall: “Balanchine and the Lost Muse”
- Vanda Krefft: “The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox”
- Wendy Lesser: “Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets”
- John Matteson: “The Lives of Margaret Fuller”
- D.T. Max: “Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace”
- Pamela Newkirk: “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga”
- Molly Peacock: “The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72”
- Jed Perl: “Calder: The Conquest of Time: The Early Years: 1898-1940”
- Siobhan Roberts: “Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway”
- Damion Searls: “The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing”
Other fellows have contracts for their books, including:
- Colin Asher, writing about Nelson Algren
- Cynthia Carr, on Candy Darling
- Heather Clark, on Sylvia Plath
- Peter Filkins, on H.G. Adler
- Blake Gopnik, on Andy Warhol
- Aidan Levy, on Sonny Rollins
- Andrew Meier, on the Morgenthau family
- Adam Plunkett, on Robert Frost
- Eric K. Washington, on James H. Williams
Every September, the LLCB celebrates the genre with the annual Leon Levy Biography Lecture, in which a distinguished biographer speaks on the art and craft of biography.
Geoffrey C. Ward (pictured above) delivered the 2018 Leon Levy Lecture: “The Biographer’s Dilemma: Searching for the Known and Unknowable.” Historian, biographer and screenwriter, Ward the author of sixteen books, including A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Francis Parkman Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has written or cowritten many documentary films, including The War, The Civil War, Baseball, The West, Mark Twain, Not for Ourselves Alone, and Jazz.
In 2017, Taylor Branch delivered the annual Lecture, with past speakers Robert A. Caro, Ron Chernow, Richard Holmes, Hermione Lee, David Levering Lewis, Robert K. Massie, Stacy Schiff, Hilary Spurling and Brenda Wineapple in attendance.