Scott Turow

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Scott Turow
BornScott Frederick Turow
(1949-04-12) April 12, 1949 (age 75)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, lawyer
EducationAmherst College (BA)
Stanford University
Harvard University (JD)
GenreFiction, legal thrillers

Scott Frederick Turow[1] (born April 12, 1949) is an American author and lawyer. Turow has written 13 fiction and three nonfiction books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies.[2] Turow’s novels are set primarily among the legal community in the fictional Kindle County. Films have been based on several of his books.

Life and career[edit]

Turow was born in Chicago, to a family of Belarusian Jewish descent.[3] His father was an M.D., but it was his mother Rita whom he credits as serving as his "beacon" and shaping him with her "love, support, and boundless faith in me."[4] He attended New Trier High School and graduated from Amherst College in 1970, as a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society.[5] He received an Edith Mirrielees Fellowship to Stanford University’s Creative Writing Center, which he attended from 1970 to 1972.

Turow later became a Jones Lecturer at Stanford, serving until 1975, when he entered Harvard Law School. In 1977, Turow wrote One L, a book about his first year at law school. After earning his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree cum laude in 1978, Turow became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago, serving in that position until 1986. There, he prosecuted several high-profile corruption cases, including the tax fraud case of state Attorney General, William Scott. Turow was also lead counsel in Operation Greylord, the federal prosecution of judicial corruption cases in Illinois.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney's Office, Turow became a novelist and wrote the legal thrillers Presumed Innocent (1987), The Burden of Proof (1990), Pleading Guilty (1993), and Personal Injuries, which Time magazine named as the Best Fiction Novel of 1999. All four books became bestsellers, and Turow won multiple literary awards, most notably the Silver Dagger Award of the British Crime Writers' Association.

In 1990, Turow was featured on the June 11 cover of Time, which described him as "Bard of the Litigious Age".[6] In 1995, Canadian author Derek Lundy published a biography of Turow, entitled Scott Turow: Meeting the Enemy (ECW Press, 1995). In the 1990s, a British publisher bracketed Turow’s work with that of Margaret Atwood and John Irving, republished in the series Bloomsbury Modern Library.

Turow was elected the President of the Authors Guild in 2010,[7] which he was previously President of from 1997 to 1998.[citation needed] As the President of the Authors Guild, he has been criticized for his copyright maximalist and anti-ebook stance.[8] Turow has often responded that he is not against e-books, and has shared that he, in fact, does the majority of his own reading electronically. According to Turow, he is interested in protecting writing as a livelihood.[9]

From 1997 to 1998, Turow was a member of the U.S. Senate Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois, which recommends federal judicial appointments. In 2011, Turow met with Harvard Law School professor, Lawrence Lessig, to discuss political reform, including a possible Second Constitutional Convention of the United States. According to one source, Turow saw risks with having such a convention, but he believed that it may be the "only alternative", given his stance that campaign money can undermine the one man, one vote principle of democracy.[10]

Turow is a retired partner of the international law firm Dentons having been a partner of one of its constituents, the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Much of Turow's caseload work is pro bono, including a 1995 case, in which he won the release of Alejandro Hernandez, a man that spent 11 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. He was also appointed to the commission considering the reform of the Illinois death penalty by former Governor George Ryan. Additionally, Turow was the first Chair of the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, and he served as one of the 14 members on the Commission, which was appointed in March of 2000, by Illinois Governor George Ryan to consider reform of the capital punishment system.[2] Turow also served as a member of the Illinois State Police Merit Board 2000–2002.



Turow’s fiction is set primarily among the legal community in the fictional Kindle County. According to Turow, he planned to set his first novel, Presumed Innocent in Boston, where he attended law school. But by the time he finished the work, the setting had taken on characteristics of Chicago, Turow's hometown to which he had returned.

As editor[edit]



His non-fiction work Ultimate Punishment also received the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2003 Book award given annually to a novelist who "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes – his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity."[12]



Scott Turow was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2000 in the area of Communications.[13] The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame gave Turow the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement on October 5, 2023 as part of Chicago Public Library's 150th anniversary celebration.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scott Frederick Turow". 1949-12-04. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  2. ^ a b Scott Turow Bio
  3. ^ MacDonald, Andrew F.; Gina Macdonald (1949-04-12). Scott Turow: A Critical Companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313331152. Retrieved 2013-04-09 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Scott Turow to be awarded Literary Hall of Fame's Fuller Prize". Chicago Tribune. 2023-09-26. Retrieved 2023-09-28.
  5. ^ "Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity: Notable Alumni". Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  6. ^ "Burden of Success". Time. Vol. 135, no. 24. Time Inc. 1990-06-11. Archived from the original on December 15, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  7. ^ Rich, Motoko (2010-04-28). "Scott Turow Elected President of the Authors Guild". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Masnick, Mike (2013-04-08). "Authors Guild's Scott Turow: The Supreme Court, Google, Ebooks, Libraries & Amazon Are All Destroying Authors". Techdirt. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  9. ^ CBS This Morning, 2013-10-16.
  10. ^ James Warren of The Chicago News Cooperative (2011-12-10). "Let's Do Something About Privilege, Donors, Corporations and the Constitution". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
  11. ^ "Hard Listening". The Rock Bottom Remainders.
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2015-06-19.
  13. ^ "Laureates by Year – The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  14. ^ "Fuller Award for Scott Turow". Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2023-09-28.

External links[edit]