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Black Women's Biography Collective


Black women’s life writing has been among the fastest-growing literary subgenres in the past several years—due in part to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminist engagement on social media, and the public’s fascination with the growing number of prominent Black women in the political sphere. Long before this explosion of memoirs and biographies on and by Black women, scholars such as Nell Painter, Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Barbara Ransby led the way in the 1990s and early 2000s, writing path-breaking biographies and establishing the methodologies that other scholars would build upon. And while Black women’s biography has remained a vital form of writing and research for academics at various career stages, only a few have managed to secure contracts with commercial publishers and garner wider audience reach.

On October 18 & 19, 2021, Ashley Farmer (University of Texas-Austin) and Tanisha Ford (City University of New York's Graduate Center) hosted the Writing and Publishing Black Women’s Biography in the Black Lives Matter Era Workshop, sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. The workshop brought together a small group of emerging and established Black women’s biographers and publishing industry professionals to explore strategies for producing life writing that reaches a broad and diverse public audience. Over two days, we worked together to demystify the commercial publishing process for Black women biographers who are weighing the pros and cons of trade and academic publishing. We also sought to build community among Black writers. We laughed, learned, and strategized together. Our discussion resulted in the online forum on Black Women’s biography:

In March 2024, we will celebrate and expand that community of Black women's life writers. Following a keynote by Salamishah Tillett and a reception on the evening of March 28, we will discuss community, craft, and marketing on March 29.  We want you to join us! Please use the link below to register for free and reserve your lunch on March 29.

Reserve your free tickets here: 2024 Conference - Un-Bioed: Reimagining Black Women's Lives