Meryle Secrest is an award-winning American biographer, primarily of American artists and art collectors.
Secrest was born in Bath, England, and educated there. Her family emigrated to Canada, where she began her career as a journalist. She worked as women's editor for the Hamilton News in Ontario, Canada; shortly thereafter she was named "Most Promising Young Writer" by the Canadian Women's Press Club. In 1964 she began writing for the Washington Post, doing profile interviews of notable personalities from Leonard Bernstein to Anaïs Nin.
In 1975 she left the Post to write books full-time. Since then she has written a number of critically acclaimed biographies; her subjects have included Frank Lloyd Wright, Lord Duveen, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Salvador Dalí, Kenneth Clark, Bernard Berenson, Romaine Brooks, Richard Rodgers, and Amedeo Modigliani. She has also published an autobiography entitled Shoot the Widow.
She now lives in Washington, D.C.
- Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks, 1974. OCLC 969614
- Being Bernard Berenson, 1979. OCLC 4549289
- Kenneth Clark: A Biography, 1984. OCLC 11113241
- Salvador Dalí, 1986.
- Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, 1992. OCLC 26613089
- Leonard Bernstein: A Life, 1994.
- Stephen Sondheim: A Life, 1998.
- Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers, 2001. OCLC 849259450
- Duveen: A Life in Art, 2004.
- Shoot the Widow: Adventurers of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject, 2007
- Modigliani: A Life, 2011
- Elsa Schiaparelli, 2014
Awards and recognition
Secrest's Being Bernard Berenson was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 and for the American Book Awards in 1981.In 1999 she received the George Freedley Memorial Award of the American Library Association for her outstanding contribution to the literature of the theatre. In 2006, she received the Presidential National Humanities Medal from President Bush at the White House for illuminating the lives of great architects, artists and scholars of the 20th century..