Amanda Foreman (biographer)
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Amanda Lucy Foreman (born 1968) is a British/American biographer and historian.
Foreman was born in London. Her parents were Evelyn (Smith) and the screenwriter and film producer Carl Foreman (1914–1984). Her father moved to England in order to work after being blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios during the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Her brother, Jonathan Foreman, is an international correspondent and film critic.
Amanda Foreman was educated at Hanford School, a girls' junior independent school in southwest England, followed by various girls' boarding schools. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, then Columbia University, before returning to England in 1991. She was awarded the 1993 “Henrietta Jex Blake Senior Scholarship” at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. At Oxford, Foreman completed an MPhil thesis Politics or Providence?: Why the Houses of Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade in 1807 (1993) and a DPhil with her thesis The political life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, 1757-1806 (1998).
Life and career
After completing her DPhil, Foreman remained at Oxford as a researcher, and in 1998, she published her first book, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, based on her doctoral thesis. Published by HarperCollins in the UK and Random House in the US, the book was an international best-seller and reached number one in the UK as a hardback, paperback, and reissue nine years later. It was shortlisted for the 1998 Guardian First Book Prize, and won the 1998 Whitbread Prize for Best Biography. The book has been the subject of a television documentary, a radio play, starring Judi Dench, and a film, The Duchess, starring Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley.
Foreman's most recent book, A World on Fire, a history of British-American relations in the American Civil War, was published in 2010 by Penguin in the UK, and in 2011 by Random House in the US. It has been optioned by BBC Worldwide. The book was a critical success in both countries and a national bestseller in the U.S. Writing in The Guardian, Jay Parini stated, "One can hardly overestimate the brilliance of Foreman's conception, seeing this turning point in American history from a British viewpoint, drawing on a vast range of actors on this great stage, including lesser-known British sympathisers who fought on either side in this conflict or journalists." Adam I.P. Smith of History Today said, "Amanda Foreman's magnificent new book . . . resembles nothing so much as War and Peace." In a rare accolade, The New York Times Book Review awarded Foreman her second cover review. Michael Burlingame of The Wall Street Journal heralded Foreman as "such an engaging writer that readers may find this 958-page volume too short". Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker wrote: "The pages fly like the wind - like Gone with the Wind - because there's so much life, so much action, and so many vivid people in them."
In 2011, A World on Fire was "highly commended" by the judges of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. It was chosen as a "Book of the Year" by The New Yorker and The Economist and named one of the "Ten Best Books of 2011" by The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and NPR.
In 2012, A World on Fire won the Fletcher Pratt Award for excellence in Civil War history writing. It was a finalist for the 2012 Lincoln Prize, the Lionel Gelber Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was also nominated for the Jefferson Davis Prize.
Amanda Foreman's other influential work includes a meditation on the role of the historian for BBC Radio 3, a discussion of the Anglo-American relationship for Andrew Neil's This Week on BBC One, a cover interview with Emma Watson for the July 2011 issue of Vogue, and a cover story on Margaret Thatcher for Newsweek in December 2011, followed by a reflection on Thatcher's life and legacy after the politician's death in April 2013. Foreman has graced the covers of both The Sunday Times Magazine and The Lady in the UK.
Foreman has been an ardent campaigner for justice for Jean McConville, a Belfast widow and mother of ten murdered by the IRA in 1972, and has had many articles and stories on this topic featured in the British press.
Foreman has served as a judge on the Guardian First Book Award (1999), the Orange Prize for Fiction (2000), the National Book Award (2010), the Cheltenham Booker Prize (2011), the Dan David Prize (2012), the Pen Hessell-Tiltman Prize (2012), and the Man Booker Prize (2012).
In 2013, Foreman began writing "Historically Speaking", a biweekly column on history and world affairs, for The Wall Street Journal. In the same year, she also joined Smithsonian magazine and History Today as a regular columnist. Foreman's next book, "The World Made by Women: A History of Womankind from the Age of Cleopatra to the Era of Hillary Clinton", is slated for publication by Random House (US) and Allen Lane (UK) in 2015.
Foreman has dual citizenship, and splits her time between New York City and London. She is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London. She is married and has five children.
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- Parini, Jay (November 26, 2010). "A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided by Amanda Foreman – Review". The Guardian. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
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- Foreman, Amanda (July 2011). "Emma Watson's New Day". Vogue. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Foreman, Amanda (26 December 2011). "The New Thatcher Era". Newsweek: 32–40. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Foreman, Amanda. "Margaret Thatcher: The Accidental Feminist". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Turner, Amy (October 17, 2010). "The Lady is for Page-Turning". The Sunday Times Magazine. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Foreman, Amanda (December 4, 2010). "Sinn Fein should never be able to escape Jean McConville's ghost". The Guardian. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- Foreman, Amanda (May 17, 2013). "Historically Speaking: The Tyranny of the Micromanager". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- "Dr. Amanda Foreman". Center for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL). Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (Random House, 2011), 958 pp.
- Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided (Penguin, 2010), 988 pp.
- Foreman, Amanda. The Duchess (Random House, 2008), 456 pp.
- Foreman, Amanda. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Random House, 2001), 512 pp.
- Foreman, Amanda. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Harper Collins, 2000), 496 pp.
- 'Reassessing Georgiana a decade later', Sunday Times, August, 2008
- 'Life as working mother of Five', Sunday Times, February, 2007
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- 'Interview with Amanda Foreman', The Daily Telegraph, November, 2010
- Amanda Foreman's Official Website
- Interview on A World on Fire at the Pritzker Military Library
- BookTv Interview