Kitty Kelley

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.


90 entries by Kitty Kelley

Book Review

Undelivered: The Never-Heard Speeches that Would Have Rewritten History

An edifying, bloated chronicle of what might’ve been.

Book Review

The Summer Friend: A Memoir

By Charles McGrath

The Summer Friend: A Memoir

A heartfelt, guarded ode to a seasonal pal.

Book Review

Ma and Me: A Memoir

By Putsata Reang

Ma and Me: A Memoir

A queer Cambodian American woman grapples with being disowned.

Feature

Regarding Mrs. Churchill

Sonia Purnell’s Clementine gives Winston’s formidable wife her due.

Book Review

The Age of Acrimony

By Jon Grinspan

The Age of Acrimony

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

Feature

A Trail of Tears and Triumph

Following Martin Luther King’s footsteps from Atlanta to Memphis.

Book Review

George Soros: A Life in Full

By Peter L.W. Osnos

George Soros: A Life in Full

An uneven look at an extraordinary man.

Book Review

The Barbizon

By Paulina Bren

The Barbizon

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

Feature

Of Inhuman Bondage

Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys shines a light on an insidious evil.

Book Review

Home/Land: A Memoir of Departure and Return

A British expat reclaims her roots.

Book Review

Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight for Fairness

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

Book Review

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

By Bernardine Evaristo

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

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

Feature

An Interview with Arnold Lehman

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

Book Review

John Lewis: The Last Interview and Other Conversations

The late congressman’s star continues to shine.

Book Review

There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century

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

Feature

A Fateful Friendship

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

Book Review

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

An instructive but dry treatise on a grim subject.

Book Review

Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South

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

Book Review

First Friends: The Powerful, Unsung (And Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents

Presidential pals finally get their due in this rollicking read.

Book Review

Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir

By James Tate Hill

Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir

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

Book Review

The American Story

By David M. Rubenstein

The American Story

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

Book Review

The Story I Am

By Roger Rosenblatt

The Story I Am

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

Feature

An Interview with Susan Page

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

Book Review

The Age of Acrimony: How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915

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

Book Review

The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free

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

Feature

She Is, She Is, She Is

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

Widowish: A Memoir

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

Book Review

Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause

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

Book Review

Henry Adams in Washington: Linking the Personal and Public Lives of America’s Man of Letters

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

Feature

An Interview with Deborah Tannen

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

Book Review

1957: The Year that Launched the American Future

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

Feature

Pride in Her Family

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

Book Review

How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers

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

Book Review

Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976-1980

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

Book Review

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own

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

Feature

An Interview with Pam Fessler

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

Book Review

The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life

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

Feature

In the Beginning Were the Words

A devastating early memoir that spoke the truth about slavery.

Feature

Unsung or Unwell?

Reevaluating Mary Todd Lincoln through a feminist lens.

Book Review

Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution

Chronicling the rise of the Moneyball Generation.

Book Review

The Story I Am: Mad About the Writing Life

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

Book Review

Pelosi

By Molly Ball

Pelosi

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

Book Review

The Moment of Tenderness

By Madeleine L’Engle

The Moment of Tenderness

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

Feature

The Silent Justice’s Deafening Opinions

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

Book Review

Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best

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

Book Review

Doing Justice

By Preet Bharara

Doing Justice

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

Book Review

The Lost Diary of M: A Novel

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

In the Land of Men: A Memoir

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

Book Review

The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties

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

Rising out of Hatred

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

Book Review

The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians

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

Book Review

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement

Untangling Harvey Weinstein's web of deceit.

Book Review

Erosion: Essays of Undoing

By Terry Tempest Williams

Erosion: Essays of Undoing

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

Feature

With Father, Time

The plainspoken poignancy of Philip Roth’s Patrimony.

Book Review

Life of David Hockney: A Novel

By Catherine Cusset; translated by Teresa Fagan

Life of David Hockney: A Novel

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

Book Review

The Drama of Celebrity

By Sharon Marcus

The Drama of Celebrity

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

Book Review

All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir

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

Book Review

L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated “Female Byron”

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

Jackie, Janet & Lee

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

Feature

Public Servant No. 1

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

Feature

Michelle Obama’s Riveting Read

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

Book Review

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law

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

Feature

Blood Sports

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

Book Review

The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcee who Became the Duchess of Windsor

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

Feature

An Interview with Diane Kiesel

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

Food on the Move: Dining on the Legendary Railway Journeys of the World

A taste of what rarefied travelers used to eat.

Book Review

Just a Journalist

By Linda Greenhouse

Just a Journalist

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

Feature

Death Rarely Takes a Holiday

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

Book Review

Rising out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

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

Book Review

Who Is Michael Ovitz?

By Michael Ovitz

Who Is Michael Ovitz?

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

Feature

Tropelessly Devoted to You

The Tuscan Child clings too hard to a tired formula.

Book Review

The Library Book

By Susan Orlean

The Library Book

An irresistible homage to the world of words.

Book Review

A History of France

By John Julius Norwich

A History of France

A streamlined, merry romp through glorious Gaul.

Book Review

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

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

Book Review

Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World

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

Book Review

Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World

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

Book Review

Robin

By Dave Itzkoff

Robin

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

Book Review

Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill

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

Book Review

Avedon: Something Personal

By Norma Stevens and Steven M.L. Aronson

Avedon: Something Personal

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

Book Review

Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life, and the Spaces Between

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

Book Review

The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address

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

Book Review

His Father’s Son

By Tim Brady

His Father’s Son

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

Settle for More: A Memoir

A refreshingly candid work from the Fox News powerhouse.

Book Review

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992

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

Across the China Sea: A Novel

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

Book Review

The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Final Years

A worshipful ode to the Gipper from his private secretary

Book Review

Book Review

His Father’s Son: The Life of General Ted Roosevelt Jr.

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

Book Review

Settle for More

By Megyn Kelly

Settle for More

A refreshingly candid memoir from the Fox News powerhouse.

Book Review

The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy

By Jean Kennedy Smith

The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy

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