Sylvia Jukes Morris
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She was born in Worcestershire, England, and educated at Dudley Girl's Grammar School and London University. She taught history and English literature in London before marrying Edmund Morris in 1966 and emigrating to the U.S. two years later. After a period of freelance travel and food writing, she contracted with Coward, McCann & Geoghagan to write Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Portrait of a First Lady, the first-ever life of Theodore Roosevelt's second wife (1861-1948). The book, based on hitherto private family documents, was published in 1980. Annalyn Swan, in Newsweek, reviewed it as “marvelously full-blooded [and] engagingly written.” TK, in The Christian Science Monitor, said it represented “craftsmanship of the highest order,” and R. W. B. Lewis, in The Washington Post Book World, called it “an endlessly engrossing book, at once of historical and human importance.” Edith Kermit Roosevelt was reissued by Modern Library in the fall of 2001.
In 1981 Sylvia Jukes Morris became the authorized biographer of Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987), the playwright, Congresswoman, and diplomat. Again working from an archive not previously opened to researchers, she published in 1997 Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce. Gore Vidal described it in The New Yorker as “a model biography . . . of the sort that only real writers can write.” A contrary view was expressed by Judith Martin in The New York Times Book Review: "Ms. Morris . . . will hardly allow her new subject the smallest uncontaminated virtue." Karen Heller commented in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “In this marvelous volume, Sylvia Jukes Morris has not just amassed information, but distilled it. The result is a portrait that is powerful and resonant.” The book, issued by Random House, was named a Notable Book by the New York Times in 1997.
Sylvia Jukes Morris is expected to publish the second and final volume of her life of Clare Boothe Luce, entitled Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce, in June, 2014. Her miscellaneous articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Sunday Times Magazine, Travel & Leisure, and The Washington Post. She has served as a judge for the National Book Awards and lectured at the Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, and Newseum of Washington, D.C., as well as the New York Society Library, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Miami Book Fair, the Palm Beach Junior League, and the University of Delaware. Her television credits include appearances on the PBS “American Experience” special 1900, C-SPAN, the History Channel, and a transatlantic literary symposium presented by Paris Review and the English-Speaking Union.
- Library of Congress Bookfest biography
- Random House interview
- Random House biography
- Booknotes interview with Morris on Rage For Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce, July 27, 1997.