Blake Bailey

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Blake Bailey
Blake Bailey NBCC 2011 Shankbone.jpg
Born (1963-07-01)July 1, 1963
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States[1]
Occupation biographer
Nationality United States

Blake Bailey (born July 1, 1963 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) is an American writer. Bailey is widely known for his literary biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the editor of the Library of America omnibus editions of Cheever's stories and novels.


Bailey grew up in Oklahoma City and attended high school at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, where he was friends with another future author, Dan Fagin.[2] He went to college at Tulane University, from which he graduated in 1985.

He is married to Mary Brinkmeyer, a psychologist at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.[3] Together they have a daughter. Bailey is a tennis enthusiast.[4]

Bailey and his family lost their house and most of their possessions in Hurricane Katrina, an experience he wrote about in a series of articles for Slate.[5]

He is currently the Mina Hohenberg Darden Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.


After college, Bailey wrote occasional free-lance pieces and taught gifted eighth-graders at a magnet school in New Orleans. After publishing a long critical profile of Richard Yates, Bailey contracted to write a full-length biography of the novelist, A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates (2003).

In 2005, Bailey was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on his biography, Cheever: A Life, which won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award among other honors. Bailey also edited a two-volume edition of Cheever's work for the Library of America.

In an interview with the New York Times published on November 17, 2012, Philip Roth said that Bailey was his official biographer and at work on that project.[6]

Recently Bailey published his biography of the novelist Charles Jackson, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson, as well as a memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates (Picador, 2003)
  • Cheever: A Life (Knopf, 2009)
  • Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson (Knopf, 2013)
  • The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait (Norton, 2014)

As editor:

  • John Cheever: Collected Stories & Other Writings (Library of America, 2009)
  • John Cheever: Complete Novels (Library of America, 2009)
  • The Sunnier Side and Other Stories, by Charles Jackson (Vintage/Random House, 2013)


  1. ^ a b "Up Front - Blake Bailey". The New York Times, August 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ Ken, Raymond (April 20, 2014). "Oklahoma City native Dan Fagin wins Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Precisely, A world-class literary biographer.". Distinction, Janine Latus, November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Stray Questions for: Blake Bailey". The New York Times, July 27, 2007. 
  5. ^ "My Year of Hurricanes". Slate Magazine, Sept 2, 2005, Blake Bailey. 
  6. ^ "Goodbye, Frustration: Pen Put Aside, Roth Talks". The New York Times, November 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Announcing the 2012 PEN Literary Award Recipients". PEN American Center. October 15, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 

External links[edit]