Penelope Fitzgerald, by Hermione Lee

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote her first novel at 60 and became famous at 80. "How does she do it?" asked A. S. Byatt. Hermione Lee tries to answer.


Harriet Beecher Stowe, by Nancy Koester

Spring books

The Harriet Beecher Stowe of Nancy Koester’s new biography is not the one with which most readers are familiar—the “little woman who made this big war,” as Abraham Lincoln reportedly said about the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Intimate partners

Charlotte von Kirschbaum and Karl Barth: A Study in Biography and the History of Theology, by Suzanne Selinger


Swaggart, by Ann Rowe Seaman

They are as American as the Fourth of July, these sensationalist preachers who nowadays crowd the TV screen and in earlier days brought thousands into camp meetings.


The digital Luther

Martin Luther: Exploring His Life and Times, 1483-1546, by Helmar Jughans (CD-ROM)

Written biographies of Martin Luther abound, but only one multimedia, hypertext CD-ROM attempts the tale. As a Luther scholar and sometime software designer, I find this production's media more interesting than its message.


Progress of a soul

Teresa of Ávila: The Progress of a Soul, by Cathleen Medwick


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Eberhard Bethge, edited by Victoria J. Barnett

The new English translation of Bethge's 1970 biography, skillfully rendered by Barnett, includes all corrections and revisions of earlier editions. As a result, the edifying story of a remarkable 20th-century Christian life is now available in even greater detail. At 941 pages it's not a quick read, but Bethge offers a compelling account of a complex man.


Russian heart

The opening lines of Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground (1864) can hardly be described as inviting: "I am a sick man. . . . I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased." Yet generations of readers have been engaged by the writer's exquisite self-awareness, his extreme ambivalences and his complex understanding of life in a dysfunctional society.