Melissa Febos (born September 28, 1980) is an American writer. She is the author of Whip Smart (St Martin.s Press 2010), a memoir of her work as a professional dominatrix while she was studying at The New School. Her second book, the essay collection Abandon Me, was published by Bloomsbury Publishing on February 28, 2017.
Early life and education
Febos grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Her father was a sea captain, and her mother a therapist. She left home at sixteen after passing the GED, moved to Boston, and worked at an assortment of jobs including as a boatyard hand and as a chambermaid. She attended night courses at Harvard Extension School, then enrolled in The New School and moved to New York City in August 1999. She later earned an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College.
Febos was the co-curator, with Rebecca Keith, of the monthly Mixer Reading and Music series on the Lower East Side for ten years. A three-time MacDowell Colony fellow, she has received fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Her essays have won awards from Prairie Schooner and StoryQuarterly, and for five years she was on the Board of Directors of Vida: Women in Literary Arts. She has taught at SUNY Purchase College, the Gotham Writers' Workshop, The New School, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Utica College. She currently teaches at Monmouth University.
Febos has contributed to publications such as The New York Times, Salon, Bomb, Hunger Mountain, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, Post Road, Dissent, The Southeast Review, Redivider, The Rambler, The Huffington Post, Bitch Magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Whip Smart resulted in a front-page appearance on the cover of the New York Post, a feature interview on NPR's radio program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, a guest appearance on Anderson Cooper's talk show, and an appearance on CNN's Dr. Drew show.
- 2018 Vermont Studio Center fellowship
- 2018 BAU Institute fellowship at The Camargo Foundation
- 2018 LAMBDA Literary's Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction
- 2018 The Publishing Triangle finalist for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
- 2018 LAMBDA Literary Award finalist in Memoir/Biography
- 2018 The Sarah Verdone Writing Award, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
- 2017 Ragdale Residency
- 2015 Vermont Studio Center fellowship
- 2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space residency
- 2015 The Center for Women Writers Creative Nonfiction Prize
- 2014 The MacDowell Colony Fellowship
- 2014 A Story Quarterly Essay Prize
- 2014 Virginia Center for Creative Arts Residency
- 2013 The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund fellowship
- 2013 The Prairie Schooner Creative Nonfiction Prize
- 2011 The MacDowell Colony Fellowship
- 2010 The MacDowell Colony Fellowship 
- Rohin Guha. ‘Whip Smart’’s Melissa Febos on Diets, Dudes and Dominatrix-ing, Black Book Mag, Feb 23, 2010
- Alyssa Fetini Friday, Inside the Secret World of a Dominatrix, Time Magazine, March 19, 2010
- Susannah Cahalan, A fine line between pleasure and pain, The Daily Telegraph February 27, 2010.
- Alicia Rancilio, Melissa Febos' `Whip Smart' describes her life as a dominatrix, Washington Examiner, March 12, 2010
- Dave Rosenthal. Melissa Febos' Whip Smart, The Baltimore Sun, March 8, 2010
- 'Abandon Me,' Bloomsbury Publishing
- 'Whip Smart': Memoirs Of A Dominatrix, NPR, March 8, 2010. Interview
- "Rebecca Keith - The Rumpus.net". The Rumpus. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences
- "Monmouth University: Melissa Febos, MFA". Monmouth University. Retrieved 18 December 2017.