Biographical highlights and sidelights from a dozen, mostly veteran, nonfiction authors.
Originally posted on the Nonfiction Minute blog, these short essays focus less on biographical details than on why their subjects are worth knowing. Cheryl Harness, for instance, looks at George Washington Carver’s intrepid early efforts to make a go of it as a Kansas chicken farmer; elsewhere she suggests some of Mary Shelley’s likely sources of inspiration for Frankenstein and pays tribute to the warm friendship between the Marquis de Lafayette and the enslaved African-American James Armistead. Readers in search of role models will find plenty of lesser known possibilities among the usual suspects, such as ancient Egyptian Renaissance Man Imhotep (profiled by Jim Whiting), Sarah Keys Evans (by Amy Nathan), an African-American woman who preceded Rosa Parks in refusing to move to the back of a bus, Cal Rodgers (by Roxie Munro), a white pilot who was the first to fly across the U.S., or even George Frederic Handel (by Andrea Warren), the German composer who donated proceeds from his Messiah (and much more) to the London Foundling Hospital. Hellegouarch fills gaps in the array of period photos, documents, and art with mildly dramatic watercolor scenes, and each entry ends with a few leads to further information (often one of the writer’s own works).
Brisk and appealing historical vignettes, as readable as they are revealing. (writers’ profiles, index) (Collective biography. 10-13)