Stacy Schiff: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Stacy Schiff

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Biographer & Journalist

“Ms. Schiff does a rare thing: She gives us a book we’d miss if it didn’t exist.”
—Sarah Ruden, The Wall Street Journal

Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize; Cleopatra: A Life; and the forthcoming The Witches: Salem 1692, out in October 2015. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In her latest, The Witches, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra (itself a #1 national bestseller) unpacks the deadly mystery of the Salem Witch Trials. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.

The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.

As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, The Witches is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

The Witches is hardly Schiff's first foray into questions of women, power, and history. In Cleopatra: A Life (2011), Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the queen from her own hazy legend. Cleopatra’s name alone casts a spell. But what do we really know about the woman or her world? We know that Cleopatra ruled for 21 years, died at the age of 39, and lived in a murderous, enlightened time of exceptional opulence. History remembers her as an irresistible seductress, but she was also a canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, and a tough negotiator. She knew how to build a fleet, control a currency, and quiet an insurrection. As Schiff states, “Cleopatra stood at one of the most dangerous intersections in history: that of women and power.” We have not seen a more influential woman since—much less one who happened to be the single mother of four children, and by a wide margin the wealthiest person in her world.

Schiff received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). Her first book, Saint-Exupéry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the recipient of numerous awards abroad. Schiff is the author as well of A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, which won the 2005 George Washington Book Prize, the Ambassador Award in American Studies, and the Institut Français’s Gilbert Chinard Prize. A Great Improvisation was as well a Los Angeles Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, and Economist Best Book of the Year. All three biographies have been published in a host of foreign editions.

Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Humanities, and was a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She was awarded a 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She contributes regularly to The New York Times op-ed page, where she has been a guest columnist. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and the Times Literary Supplement, among many other publications. She received an Exceptional Merit in Media Award (EMMA) for her 2009 New York Times op-ed piece, “Who’s Buried in Cleopatra’s Tomb?” Schiff lives in New York City.

Interested in booking Stacy Schiff to speak at your next event?

Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau.


  • American Hysteria - Women, Witches, Power, and Fear
  • Benjamin Franklin in France and America
  • What Would Cleopatra Do? Drawing Lessons from History or Literature

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