Skloot at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
|Born||Rebecca Lee Skloot|
September 19, 1972 (age 46)
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Colorado State University |
University of Pittsburgh
|Notable work||The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks|
|Relatives||Floyd Skloot, father|
Rebecca L. Skloot // (born September 19, 1972) is a freelance science writer who specializes in science and medicine. Her first book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), was one of the best-selling new books of 2010, staying on The New York Times Bestseller list for over 6 years and eventually reaching #1. It was made into a movie by George C. Wolfe, which premiered on HBO on April 22, 2017 and starred Rose Byrne as Skloot, and Oprah Winfrey as Lacks’s daughter Deborah.
Early life and education
Rebecca was born in Springfield, Illinois. She is the daughter of poet, novelist, and essayist Floyd Skloot and Betsy McCarthy, a professional knitter and pattern book author. Skloot said "in the Pacific Northwest, [her] roots [are] half New York Jew and half Midwestern Protestant." She received her high school diploma from Metropolitan Learning Center in Portland, Oregon. After attending Portland Community College and becoming a Veterinary Technician, she received a BS in biological sciences from Colorado State University, and an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a former vice president of the National Book Critics Circle.
Skloot has published over 200 featured stories and essays. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Discover, and New York magazine. Skloot is also a contributing editor at Popular Science and has worked as a correspondent for NPR's Radiolab and PBS's NOVA scienceNOW.
Her first book, the #1 New York Times bestselling The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), is about Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line (known as HeLa) that came from her cancer cells in 1951. It was named a New York Times notable book, and selected as a best book of the year by more than 60 publications. It was made into an HBO film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball with Rose Byrne portraying Skloot.
In reviewing the book, Karen Long quotes Skloot and describes the long process to find a publisher: "The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism and race," Skloot writes in her prologue. Stubbornly, she put a decade into telling this story, learning as much from the family as she was able to dig up herself. The book went through three publishing houses and four editors." Skloot and Henrietta's daughter Deborah formed a link in the writing of this book, which Deborah sees as her mother's hand guiding them. Skloot is described as an atheist.
Her second book, exploring the science and ethics of human–animal relationships, was put under contract with Crown Publishing Group in 2011. Her past work with animals in shelters, as a vet tech, in research facilities, and at an animal morgue prompted her interest in the ethical controversies surrounding animal use for science. She discussed the topics of the book at the Chicago Humanities Festival in 2013. She spoke with researchers at Harvard University about it in 2015.
Awards and honors
- 2005 Best American Food Writing, selection, "Two Americas, Two Restaurants, One Town"
- 2005 Best Personal Essay of the Year by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, winner, "When Pets Attack"
- 2005 The Best American Essays, selection, "Putting the Gene Back in Genealogy"
- 2005 The Best American Travel Writing, selection, "Two Americas, Two Restaurants, One Town"
- 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science, Best Young Adult Book Award, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, winner, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, winner, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2010 Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Awards, General Nonfiction, winner, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2010 Chicago Tribune and Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award, winner
- 2010 Audie Award for Best Nonfiction Audiobook, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2011 Ambassador Book Award, winner (Biography), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2011 National Academies of Science Communication Awards, winner in Best Book category, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- 2011 Audie Award for Best Nonfiction Audiobook, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- National Association of Science Writers
- National Book Critics Circle
- The Best American Science Writing (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), co edited with Floyd Skloot
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown/Random House, 2010)
- Excerpt from "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks", "Oprah Magazine, February 2010
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Sequel "New York Times" March 23, 2013
- Your Cells. Their Research. Your Permission? "New York Times" Dec 30, 2015
- Henrietta's Dance. Johns Hopkins Magazine. April 2000.
- An Obsession With Culture. Pitt Magazine. March 2001.
- Cells That Save Lives Are a Mother's Legacy. The New York Times. November 17, 2001.
- The Other Baby Experiment. The New York Times. February 22, 2003.
- Fixing Nemo. The New York Times. May 2, 2004.
- When Pets Attack. New York magazine. October 11, 2004.
- Taking the Least of You. The New York Times Magazine. April 16, 2006.
- Creature Comforts. The New York Times Magazine. December 31, 2008.
- Some called her Miss Menten by Rebecca Skloot in Pittmed (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine magazine), October 2000.
- "Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series: Skloot, Floyd 1947-". Encyclopedia.com. 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Jessica Teisch, "Floyd Skloot & Rebecca Skloot", in Bookmarks, May/June 2010.
- "Best Sellers: Paperback Nonfiction: Sunday, June 10th 2012". The New York Times. June 10, 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
- "Oprah and Alan Ball to Make Film of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO". rebeccaskloot.com. Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
- Lopez Torregrosa, Luisita. "The Making of a Bestseller: Rebecca Skloot and a Great Obsession". Politics Daily. Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "Official Website: Bio". RebeccaSkloot.com. Being Wicked. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- "Rebecca Skloot profile". University of Memphis: Department of English. Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- "New York Times Best Sellers 2010: Hardcover Nonfiction". New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Oprah and Alan Ball to Make Film of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, May 12, 2010
- Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne to Star in Film Adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, August 19, 2016
- Long, Karen R. (February 7, 2010). "In 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,' writer Rebecca Skloot shows us science's unsuspecting benefactor". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Boog, Jason (October 12, 2011). "Rebecca Skloot Inks Deal for Book on 'Human-Animal Bond'". Galley Cat. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- "Forthcoming book: The Human Animal Bond". Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- "Forthcoming Book « Rebecca Skloot". rebeccaskloot.com. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
- "Rebecca Skloot: Creatures Great and Small". Chicago Humanities Festival. 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Walsh, Colleen (October 7, 2015). "Chasing wonder to the finest detail". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- "AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) Prizes Celebrate Books that Engage Young Readers". aaas.org. February 16, 2011. Archived from the original on March 10, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
- "Past Prizes – 2010". Wellcome Book Prize. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- November 5, 2011 (2011). "E. O. Wilson and Rebecca Skloot: 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prizes". chicagohumanities.org. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
- "Winners in the MJA Open Book Awards 2011". mjauk.org. April 21, 2011. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
- "Literary honors for Skloot, Ebert". Chicago Tribune. 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
- "Ambassador Book Awards 2011". esuus.org. 2011. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
- "2011 winners". nationalacademies.org. September 15, 2011. Archived from the original on September 24, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2016.