Jean Stein (born c. 1934, Los Angeles, California) is an American author and editor.
Jean Stein grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of Dr. Jules Stein and his wife, Doris. She is the author of two books and a pioneer of the narrative form of oral history. She is presently at work on a cultural and political history of Los Angeles, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In 1970, Stein has authored, with George Plimpton as editor, a biography of Robert F. Kennedy, entitled American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy.
Stein wrote the best-selling book Edie: American Girl based on the life of socialite/actress and Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick, in 1982. Norman Mailer wrote of Edie: "This is the book of the Sixties that we have been waiting for."
Jean Stein also worked as a magazine editor. In the late 1950s, she was an editor at The Paris Review. From 1990-2004, she was editor of the literary/visual arts magazine Grand Street with art editor Walter Hopps. The magazine actively sought out international authors, visual artists, composers and scientists to bring to its readership.
Jean Stein's father was Jules C. Stein (1896-1981), founder of the Music Corporation of America (MCA) and the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. Her mother, Doris J. Stein (1902-1984), established the Doris Jones Stein Foundation. Jean Stein's sister, Mrs. Susan Shiva, died on January 3, 1983 from breast cancer, as did Doris Stein.
Jean Stein was educated at the Katharine Branson School in Ross, California, then at Chateau Brilliantmont in Lausanne, Switzerland, after which she graduated from Miss Hewitt's Classes in New York City. Thereafter, she spent two years at Wellesley College and then attended classes at the University of Paris (formerly known as the Sorbonne). While in Paris she interviewed William Faulkner, with whom she had an affair, and, according to the historian Joel Williamson, offered the interview to the The Paris Review in exchange for being made an editor there.
She returned to New York and worked in 1955 as assistant to director Elia Kazan on the original production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize winning play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Jean Stein's first marriage in 1958 was to William vanden Heuvel, a lawyer who served in the U.S. Justice Department under Robert F. Kennedy, and who later also became a diplomat and author. Since 1984, he has been the chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
Jean Stein and William vanden Heuvel's first daughter, Katrina vanden Heuvel, was born in 1959; she is now the editor and publisher of The Nation magazine. The couple's second daughter, Wendy vanden Heuvel, was born in 1961, and she is an actress and producer in New York. She is also on the board of the 52nd Street Project, which matches inner-city youth with professional theater artists to create original dramatic works.