Pagan Kennedy

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Pagan Kennedy
BornPamela Kennedy
OccupationAuthor, columnist
Alma materWesleyan University
Johns Hopkins University
PartnerKevin Bruyneel

Pagan Kennedy (born c. 1963)[1] is an American columnist and author, and pioneer of the 1990s zine movement.[2]

She has written ten books in a variety of genres,[3] was a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, and has published articles in dozens of magazines and newspapers.[4][5] In 2012–13, she was a New York Times Magazine columnist.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Pamela Kennedy around 1963, she grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1984, and later spent a year in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Johns Hopkins University.[citation needed]


Kennedy's autobiographical zine Pagan's Head detailed her life during her twenties.[1]

Kennedy wrote a biography called The First Man-Made Man about Michael Dillon who in the 1940s was the first successful case of female-to-male sex change treatment; he established himself as a medical student. It describes how he later fell in love with a male-to-female transsexual, Roberta Cowell, who was at the time the only other transsexual in Britain.[citation needed]

In July 2012, Kennedy was named design columnist for the New York Times Magazine.[6] Her column, "Who Made That," detailed the origins of everything from the cubicle[7] to the home pregnancy test.[8] Kennedy resigned from the column after signing a contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to write a book, Inventology.[citation needed]

In 2020, Kennedy's investigation into the history of the first rape kit written for the New York Times, "The Rape Kit's Secret History," received national media attention.[9][10][11] It led to a revival of interest surrounding Marty Goddard's story, including the auction of an early rape kit at Sotheby's.[12]


Kennedy was a visiting professor of creative writing at Dartmouth College,[13] and taught fiction and nonfiction writing at Boston College, Johns Hopkins University, and many other conferences and residencies.

Personal life[edit]

An ovarian cancer survivor,[14] Kennedy currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with her partner, Kevin Bruyneel. She previously lived with filmmaker Liz Canner, in a relationship she has described as similar to a Boston marriage.[15]


Kennedy's accomplishments have been recognized many times during her career; she was a 2010 Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was named the 2010/2011 Creative Nonfiction grant winner by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has also been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction, a Sonora Review fiction prize, and a Smithsonian Fellowship for science writing.[citation needed]



  • Spinsters (1995) (Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner, shortlisted for 1996 Orange Prize, ISBN 9780684834818)
  • The Exes (Simon & Schuster, 1998 ISBN 9780684834818)
  • Confessions of a Memory Eater (Leapfrog Press, 2006 ISBN 9780972898485)[16]




  • The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Eighth Annual Collection (1995)
  • The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 2 (2008)

Short stories[edit]

  • Elvis's Bathroom (1989)


  1. ^ a b MacLaughlin, Nina (2006-06-27). "The pornography of pharmacology". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  2. ^ Harvey Blume (2009-01-04). "Wired 4.01: Zine Queen". Wired. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  3. ^ "Pagan Kennedy: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". Amazon. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  4. ^ "Pagan Kennedy (Author of The Exes)". 2011-02-26. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  5. ^ "Pagan Kennedy in conversation with Noel King". Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  6. ^ Chris O'Shea, "Pagan Kennedy Named New York Times Magazine Design Columnist", Mediabistro, July 6, 2012.
  7. ^ Kennedy, Pagan (2012-06-22). "Who Made That Cubicle?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  8. ^ Kennedy, Pagan (2012-07-27). "Who Made That Home Pregnancy Test?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Pagan (2020-06-17). "Opinion | There Are Many Man-Made Objects. The Rape Kit Is Not One of Them". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  10. ^ "What happened when a journalist tracked the origins of the rape evidence kit". Nieman Foundation. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  11. ^ "History Forgot the Woman Who Invented Rape Kits". Jezebel. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  12. ^ "The Martha Goddard Rape-Proving Evidence Collection Kit". Sotheby's.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Levy, Alison. "‘Jill-of-all-trades’ Kennedy to join creative writing faculty," The Dartmouth (May 1, 2008).
  14. ^ Kennedy, Pagan (1 June 2014). 'Zine. Santa Fe Writer's Project. ISBN 9781939650160 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "From The Issue : June-July 2001". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  16. ^ Hannah Tucker (2006-06-28). "Confessions of a Memory Eater | Books". Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  17. ^ Russo, Maria (10 February 2002). "Stranger in a Native Land". New York Times.
  18. ^ "Black Livingstone Author Finds Unexpected Link". National Geographic. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  19. ^ Julie Foster (2007-03-18). "Pioneer of sex change surgery". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-03-25.

External links[edit]