Biographies & Memoirs

Author and Musician James Lincoln Collier: Keeping Time with the Past

Fast Facts:

Born: New York City, June 27, 1928
Education: Graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, in 1950
Military service: Korean War, infantry, discharged in 1951
Family: married Carol Burrows in 1952. They had two children: Geoffrey and Andrew. Divorced his first wife and married Ida Karen Potash.
Work: worked as a magazine editor from 1952 to 1958 in New York City; also part-time trombonist at jazz clubs in Greenwich Village during the 1950s. He gave up the editing work and became a freelance writer full-time in 1958 and continues to work occasionally as a jazz musician.
Currently  Lives in: New York City
First Books: Cheers, an adult book, in 1961; Battleground: The United States Army in World War II, a non-fiction children’s book, in 1965; The Teddy Bear Habit; or, How I Became a Winner, a children’s novel, in 1967.
Selected Awards: My Brother Sam Is Dead, Newbery Honor book, ALA Notable Book, Jane Addams Honor Book Award, National Book Award Finalist, Phoenix Award; War Comes to Willy Freeman, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People; Chipper, Notable Studies Trade Book for Young People; Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787, Christopher Award; Jump Ship to Freedom, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People; The Making of Jazz, American Book Award Finalist.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

From the time she was quite young, Sylvia Earle loved the outdoors. She spent her early childhood on a farm in New Jersey exploring the animals and plants around her. Her family moved to Florida when Sylvia was twelve, to a home with a backyard on the Gulf of Mexico. Once Sylvia began exploring the waters of the Gulf, she found her life’s calling. Throughout her career as an oceanographer, Sylvia has been driven to push the boundaries of the possible in order to find out more about the underwater world she loves so much.

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay

The personal histories included in All There Is are compelling and powerful. Some are joyous celebrations of love and companionship, while others are stoic accounts of tragedy and perseverance. Despite their differences, each narrative is characterized by an overpowering sense of authenticity. The stories recorded in All There Is were not shared for personal gain or publicity. Rather, they were collected through the efforts of StoryCorps, an oral history project that allows any willing volunteer to record his or her most precious memories and experiences. The participants share the most essential aspects of their lives in interviews that are recorded for their personal archives and, in many cases, for the American Folklife Center.

Since its debut in 2003, the StoryCorps project has spread across the United States, recording over 40,000 interviews. As Dave Isay, StoryCorps’ founder, states, “StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. With a relentless focus on recording the stories of people who are often excluded from the historical record, StoryCorps captures lives that would otherwise be lost to history and reminds the nation that every story matters and every voice counts.”

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain by Martha Sherrill

Dog Man

Someone once said, “When you finish a book that you love, it is like saying good-bye to a friend.”  I felt sad when I finished Dog Man and for a few seconds thought about turning to the front of the book and starting it all over again.

Martha Sherrill has such a beautiful writing style that it was a joy to read from beginning to end. Morie Sawataishi developed a deep admiration for the rugged mountain hunting dogs of Japan. Before World War II, Japan revered the Akita, partly due to the true story of Hachiko.  He was the loyal Akita who waited every day for his owner to get off of the train.  His owner was a professor who died suddenly at work.  Hachiko continued to wait for him every day for years hoping that he would come back.  Hachiko symbolized the Japanese sense of discipline and loyalty. However, during World War II, people ate the dogs and used their pelts to line uniforms until they were almost extinct.

Great Lives Lecture Series: A Civil War Soldier

The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series concludes on Thursday, April 26, with a lecture on lives of Civil War soldiers by James Robertson, author of The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War.

Professor Robertson spoke previously as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series on Stonewall Jackson. He returns to UMW to discuss the daily lives of the Civil War soldiers.  That topic is treated in the latest of his numerous books, The Untold Civil War, which is a visually striking collection of the 132 episodes of his popular public radio “Civil War Series” stories, illustrated with 475 rare images of battle scenes, artifacts, and people. Having retired recently from the history faculty at Virginia Tech, he achieved iconic stature as a Civil War scholar, going back to his appointment as executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, working with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary. The recipient of every major award given in the Civil War field— and a mesmerizing lecturer of national acclaim — Bud Robertson is probably more in demand as a speaker before Civil War groups than anyone else in the field.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of a Civil War soldier check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: P.T. Barnum

Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 24, with a lecture on P.T. Barnum by Neil Harris, author of Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum.

Contrary to legend, he never said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Phineas Taylor Barnum was a businessman, hoaxer, and impresario who provided entertainment to a nation hungry for it. “I am a showman by profession . . . and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me,” Barnum wrote defiantly in his autobiography. In an authoritative biography of Barnum, author Neil Harris, professor of history at the University of Chicago, describes the culture and climate of America in the nineteenth century that produced such an outsized, and sometimes outrageous, figure.  Harris has written widely on various aspects of the evolution of American cultural life and on the social history of art and design.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of P.T. Barnum check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child, by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne, sets down the memories of a childhood lived in the countryside of 1930s Virginia by a black woman who grew up before the Civil Rights Movement made so many gains.  These remembrances are plain, soft-spoken and ring true to an age that was certainly different from the one we know.  In some ways, it was a harder time as in her earliest years even basic food was very hard to come by and the sharecropping system made it difficult for all farmers, black and white, to get ahead or even stay afloat during the bad harvest years.

But it was the warmth of family, faith, shared hardship and simple joys that made those days good as well as difficult. The children worked, not only because their help was needed but because it was understood that working was a good thing in and of itself. They helped pull and tend tobacco, can vegetables, sew quilts, raise chickens, and shell corn.  Lucille Payne tells of how hard it was to earn money. How sometimes her mother might not be paid much more than fifty cents for a hard day’s washing of filthy clothes in a dark and cold shed. Well, fifty cents and a hambone that might not be fit to eat without it being scrubbed, too, and sometimes not even then. But her mother said, “Well, you accept what they give you; next time it might be better.”

It wasn’t all about acceptance. Sometimes Lucille would see her mother spit in the water while she washed and she would ask her why she did that. “That helps to get them clean.”  But I know she was just so angry because she had to survive.  When you have so many children you have to survive the best way you can.  Likewise, when white children rode the bus to their segregated school, leaving the black children to walk and even calling them names, the black children got a bit of revenge…and a chance to be better than their so-called betters with an act of charity.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, April 19, with a lecture on Anne Frank by Sid Jacobson, co-author of Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography.

Drawing on the unique historical sites, archives, expertise, and the authority of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, bestselling authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón created the first authorized and exhaustive graphic biography of Anne Frank.

More than simply poignant, this biography elucidates the complex emotional aspects of living a sequestered adolescence as a brilliant, budding writer. Naturally, this book has significant appeal for teens as well as adults.” - Booklist. 

Sid Jacobson was formerly the managing editor and editor in chief for Harvey Comics, and an executive editor at Marvel Comics; artist Ernie Colón has worked at Harvey, Marvel, and DC Comics.

Visit the Macmillan web site to watch interviews with authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, and Hans Westra, director of the Anne Frank House.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Anne Frank check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 17, with a lecture on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk by Nabil Al-Tikriti.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the George Washington of today’s Republic of Turkey. After he gained his military reputation by repelling the 1915 Allied invasion of the Dardanelles, he first directed Turkey’s 1920-22 “War of Salvation” and then became Turkey’s first president. He immediately embarked on a fifteen-year campaign to modernize Turkey, which included the empowering of women, abolition of key Islamic institutions, and introduction of Western legal codes, dress, calendar, and alphabet. His adopted surname means “Father of the Turks.” Nabil Al-Tikriti, Associate Professor of History at the University of Mary Washington, earned a PhD. in Ottoman History from the University of Chicago. In addition, having served in various field capacities with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) since 1993, he has just been elected to a three-year term as a member of MSF-USA’s Board of Directors.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: The Wright Brothers

To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, April 12, with a lecture on the Wright Brothers by James Tobin, author of To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight.

Wind, sand, and a dream of flight brought Wilbur and Orville Wright to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where, after four years of experimentation, they achieved the first successful tests of a heavier than air, engine-powered machine in 1903. The Wright brothers, high school dropouts who were self-taught mechanical and aeronautic engineers, typified the legendary ethic of American know-how. Author James Tobin is a specialist in literary journalism and narrative history at Miami University of Ohio. His first book, Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the lives of the Wright Brothers check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.