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Edmund White

Edmund White’s biography of Jean Genet remains the definitive study of one of the most notorious figures of twentieth-century literature. White’s book, which earned the National Book Critics Circle Award, shows Genet in all his permutations: poet, dandy, homosexual, thief, a “thug of genius,” as Simone de Beauvoir called him. White has also written short biographies of iconic French writers Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud, as well as the novel Hotel de Dream, which imagines the last days and final lost work of American writer Stephen Crane.

In all, White is author of more than 25 books. His work, beginning in 1973 with publication of Forgetting Elena and continuing through his latest novel, Jack Holmes and His Friend, is distinguished throughout by a candor and outspokenness on behalf of the generation of gay men who witnessed the Stonewall uprising and the effects of the AIDS epidemic. Colm Tóibín, writing for the New York Review of Books, sees in the biographies of Genet, Proust, and Rimbaud “a dotted line to the gay past” and remarks that White has become “a passionate and graceful witness to his own life, to the life of New York itself, and to the changing mores of what became the gay community.”

White has also written hundreds of book reviews and essays for publications including the New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and the Times Literary Supplement (London). His subjects have included, among many others, the writers Ford Madox Ford, John Cheever, Curzio Malaparte, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters. He teaches writing at Princeton University and lives in New York City.

Online Resources

Edmund White in KWLS Audio Archives
Colm Tóibín reviews White for NYRB
The Paris Review interview

Selected Bibliography

Jack Holmes and His Friend (2012)
Sacred Monsters (2011)
Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel (2008)
Hotel de Dream (2007)
Marcel Proust (1999)
The Burning Library (1994)
Genet: A Biography (1993)
A Boy’s Own Story (1983)
Forgetting Elena (1973)