Kitty Kelley

Kitty Kelley is an internationally acclaimed writer, whose bestselling biographies focus on some of the most influential and powerful personalities of the last 50 years. Kelley’s last five biographies have been number one on the New York Times best seller list, including her most recent, Oprah: A Biography.

Kelley is also the author of Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of The Kennedys and Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington.

Known for her exhaustive research and the years dedicated to each biography subject, Kelley’s His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra was called “the most eye-opening celebrity biography of our time” by William Safire of the New York Times. She has been honored by her peers with such awards as the 2005 PEN Oakland Censorship Award, and the Outstanding Author Award and Founders’ Award for Career Achievement from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for her “courageous writing on popular culture.” Kelley received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington Independent Review of Books. She received the Medal of Merit from the Lotos Club of New York City and was selected by Vanity Fair magazine for its Hall of Fame as part of the “Media Decade.”

In 1993, Brandeis University National Women’s committee established a major book collection at the university in her honor. That same year, she was invited to debate at Oxford University; the premise: “This House Believes That Men Are Still More Equal Than Women.” She led her team to a 143-78 victory. In 1998, she spoke to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on the subject: “Public Figures: Are Their Private Lives Fair Game for the Press?” In 1999, the University of Washington named Kelley as one of 100 of “The Most Famous, Fascinating and Influential Alumni of the Past 100 Years.”

Kelley has generously advanced a number of important humanitarian causes, with a particular emphasis on literacy and press freedoms. In 1987, she was honored with the Phillip M. Stern Award for her “Outstanding service to writers and the writing profession.”

A long-time resident of Georgetown in Washington, DC, Kelley began as a press assistant to a U.S. Senator, then worked for two years as the editorial page researcher for the Washington Post. As an active member of the DC community, she was named one of the most influential people in private Washington by Regardie’s magazine in an article entitled “The Power Elite” and one of the 20 “Georgetowners of the Century” by the Georgetowner newspaper.

Kelley has worked as a full-time freelance writer for more than 30 years. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, Ladies Home Journal, the New Republic, McCall’s, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the American Scholar.

See “Unauthorized But Not Untrue,” by Kitty Kelley. The American Scholar, Winter 2011.


80 entries by Kitty Kelley

Book Review

A former officer of the court reveals that justice is hardly blind.

Book Review

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

By Bernardine Evaristo

The Booker Prize-winning author owes it all to tenacity. And talent.

Feature

The former museum director talks controversy, free speech, and Rudy Giuliani.

Book Review

The late congressman’s star continues to shine.

Book Review

The foreign-policy expert sees parallels between her lower-class roots and the hurdles facing today’s workers.

Feature

Mark Perry’s 2004 biography expertly captures the bond between two American icons.

Book Review

An instructive but dry treatise on a grim subject.

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A longtime Tennessean considers her homeland in this sharp-eyed essay collection.

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Presidential pals finally get their due in this rollicking read.

Book Review

Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir

By James Tate Hill

A young man loses his sight, but not his vision, in this excellent new work.

Book Review

The American Story

By David M. Rubenstein

This compelling compilation looks at some of the pivotal figures who shaped our nation.

Book Review

The Story I Am

By Roger Rosenblatt

The acclaimed author and essayist mines his personal oeuvre in this winning compilation.

Feature

The longtime journalist talks Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and how she got Newt Gingrich to blurb her new book.

Book Review

Recalling a turbulent time in U.S. history that bears an uncanny resemblance to today.

Book Review

This otherwise informative history is hamstrung by its fixation on Sylvia Plath’s notorious suicide.

Feature

Its grim subject matter aside, Maggie O’Farrell’s gripping memoir cements her place among the finest writers working today.

Book Review

Widowish: A Memoir

By Melissa Gould

A young woman struggles with the loss of her husband and the category it suddenly puts her in.

Book Review

With searing honesty, a retired soldier/professor comes to terms with his lifelong worship of a traitor.

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Though fact-filled, this biography does strangely little to reveal the private man behind the public persona.

Feature

The bestselling author/linguist’s debut memoir centers on her beloved late father.

Book Review

A densely written, fact-packed account of a pivotal period in U.S. history.

Feature

How a decades-old memoir and a brand-new fellowship both celebrate Black women and Black writers.

Book Review

This compendium of highfalutin advice is well presented, if not terribly compelling.

Book Review

A wide-ranging, witty account of the political climate that ushered in the Gipper.

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A impassioned corrective to “the lie” at the center of our country’s foundation.

Feature

The journalist discusses leprosy, social demonization, and the family secret that inspired her new book.

Book Review

The beloved game-show host’s new book chronicles his unquestionably happy journey.

Feature

A devastating early memoir that spoke the truth about slavery.

Feature

Reevaluating Mary Todd Lincoln through a feminist lens.

Book Review

Chronicling the rise of the Moneyball Generation.

Book Review

The acclaimed author and essayist mines his personal oeuvre in this winning compilation.

Book Review

Pelosi

By Molly Ball

How “No Nonsense Nancy” became the most powerful woman in Washington.

Book Review

The Moment of Tenderness

By Madeleine L’Engle

This collection of the famed author's early stories seems heartfelt, if ill-considered.

Feature

Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas explores the life of an oft-perplexing jurist.

Book Review

This accounting of an iconic 1938 race recaps every twist and turn, for better or worse.

Book Review

Doing Justice

By Preet Bharara

A fascinating look at all things legal from the former head of the SDNY.

Book Review

This fictionalized account of one of JFK’s real-life lovers will delight Camelot buffs and gossip hounds alike.

Book Review

In the Land of Men: A Memoir

By Adrienne Miller

An editor reflects on her time spent at Esquire — and in thrall to David Foster Wallace.

Book Review

Solid writing and research aside, this jeremiad about our changing national landscape reveals the author’s bitterness.

Book Review

Rising out of Hatred

By Eli Saslow

A sobering account of one young man's journey toward the light.

Book Review

This compelling compilation looks at some of the pivotal figures who shaped our nation.

Book Review

Untangling Harvey Weinstein's web of deceit.

Book Review

Erosion: Essays of Undoing

By Terry Tempest Williams

In searing prose, the author laments the destruction of the natural world.

Feature

The plainspoken poignancy of Philip Roth’s Patrimony.

Book Review

Life of David Hockney: A Novel

By Catherine Cusset; translated by Teresa Fagan

This melodramatic, fictionalized biography drew praise from its real-life subject.

Book Review

The Drama of Celebrity

By Sharon Marcus

The cult of fame found an early goddess in Sarah Bernhardt.

Book Review

A young woman struggles with the death of her larger-than-life father — and her own sobriety.

Book Review

In this account of a little-remembered 19th-century poet, tireless research makes for tiresome reading.

Book Review

Jackie, Janet & Lee

By J. Randy Taraborrelli

Salacious tidbits aside, weak sourcing hobbles this questionable tell-all.

Feature

A recent compendium captures the late Abner Mikva’s venerable voice.

Feature

In Becoming, the former first lady tells a compelling tale.

Book Review

A fascinating look at all things legal from the former head of the SDNY.

Feature

What happens when a nefarious startup plays games with people’s health?

Book Review

Though engaging, this biography offers little fresh insight into the scandalous "royal."

Feature

The New York State Supreme Court judge and former journalist discusses Dorothy Ferebee, a groundbreaking Civil Rights figure who never really got her due.

Book Review

A taste of what rarefied travelers used to eat.

Book Review

Just a Journalist

By Linda Greenhouse

The Pulitzer-winning reporter recounts the pitfalls of proffering an opinion.

Feature

A writer sorts out her lover’s suicide in Sigrid Nunez’s intimate, incandescent The Friend.

Book Review

A sobering account of one young man's journey toward the light.

Book Review

Who Is Michael Ovitz?

By Michael Ovitz

The erstwhile mega-agent recounts his life and settles some scores.

Feature

The Tuscan Child clings too hard to a tired formula.

Book Review

The Library Book

By Susan Orlean

An irresistible homage to the world of words.

Book Review

A History of France

By John Julius Norwich

A streamlined, merry romp through glorious Gaul.

Book Review

A more searing than humorous look at the scandalous, off-putting royal.

Book Review

A brilliantly written chronicle of one of the dynasty's mightiest members.

Book Review

Creative genius aside, the famed artist was hardly a good guy.

Book Review

Robin

By Dave Itzkoff

This chronicle of the late comedian’s life falls short of its subject’s greatness.

Book Review

Salacious tidbits aside, weak sourcing hobbles this questionable tell-all.

Book Review

Avedon: Something Personal

By Norma Stevens and Steven M.L. Aronson

The only thing missing from this account of the iconic photographer's life is the photos themselves.

Book Review

The Pulitzer-winning reporter recounts the pitfalls of proffering an opinion.

Book Review

A fact-filled (if less-than-scintillating) primer on DC's notorious hotel.

Book Review

His Father’s Son

By Tim Brady

This biography of the younger TR inexplicably ignores several key components of the man's life.

Book Review

Settle for More: A Memoir

By Megyn Kelly

A refreshingly candid work from the Fox News powerhouse.

Book Review

The famed editor throws major shade at those who've crossed her.

Book Review

Across the China Sea: A Novel

By Gaute Heivoll; translated by Nadia Christensen

A short tale of an altruistic Norwegian family that packs an emotional wallop.

Book Review

A worshipful ode to the Gipper from his private secretary

Book Review

Book Review

This biography of the younger TR inexplicably ignores several key components of the man's life.

Book Review

Settle for More

By Megyn Kelly

A refreshingly candid memoir from the Fox News powerhouse.

Book Review

The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy

By Jean Kennedy Smith

This slim recollection of America's first family suffers from a lack of fresh material.