Nicholas A. Basbanes

“No living person has thought more about the extraordinary power

of books than Nicholas Basbanes” —Ellis Henican, Newsday

'The Longfellows and Their Books': Read Here

Basbanes’ marvelous biography revives the iconic 19th-century poet’s reputation… captures the full scope of Longfellow’s life.

—5 Hot Books, National Book Review

Well timed…[its] richness…presents Longfellow as a man, husband, friend and cultural monument of 19th-century America…[to know] Longfellow’s life and milieu, Basbanes is definitely your man.

                                         —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

Best Books of 2020,

Christian Science Monitor

An Amazon "Editor's Pick" in Biography and Memoir

  Seminary Co-op

Notable Book (2020)



To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.


Whether in a garret or a sitting room, readers across the centuries have found their life’s work—and altered the course of history—through books. That’s the premise underlying Nicholas Basbanes’ admirably wide excursion into literature, history and biography. 

Kathleen Burke,




Nick lectures on a wide variety of book-related topics.
For speaking engagements, contact the
Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau



or call 212-572-2013 




Nicholas A. Basbanes is the author of ten critically acclaimed works of cultural history, with a particular emphasis on various aspects of books and book culture. A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, his first book, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction in 1995, and was a New York Times Notable Book. On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History (2013, Knopf) was one of three finalists for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and was named a best book of the year by seven major publications. 

In 2016, he was awarded a Public Scholar research fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities, his second NEH grant, for work on Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, forthcoming in June 2020 from Knopf.  He also writes the “Gently Mad” column for Fine Books & Collections magazine, lectures widely on book related subjects, and is a frequent contributor to Humanities magazine and other publications. He and his wife Constance live in North Grafton, Massachusetts.


For more biographical and professional information, and selected links to his published essays, CSPAN television appearances, and NPR radio interviews, see Wikipedia


  • Amercan Writers Museum
    American Writers Museum
    Jun 03, 2021, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM CDT
    American Writers Museum
    Nick discusses his research and writing of Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "Cross of Snow": The Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with Nicholas A. Basbanes
    May 12, 2021, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
    Gentle Minstrel: A Son of New England
  • Fanny Appleton and Henry Longfellow: A Creative Partnership
    Online Event
    May 11, 2021, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM EDT
    Online Event
    Panel presentation in conference being hosted by Harvard University, "Dante Lands in North America: From Belle-lettrism to Proto-pragmatism"
  • Henry and Fanny Longfellow: An American Love Story of Uncommon Consequence
    Online Event
    Feb 24, 2021, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
    Online Event
    An exploration of the love and partnership of Henry and Fanny Longfellow.
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
    Massachusetts Historical Society
    Dec 16, 2020, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM EST
    Massachusetts Historical Society
    The Longfellows and 19th-Century Boston
  • American Inspiration Author Series
    GBH Network Forum
    Dec 07, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EST
    GBH Network Forum
    Nick will be in conversation with Diana Korzenik on the marriage and "intellectual partnership" of Henry Longfellow, and his wife of 18 years, Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Co-sponsored by State Library of Massachusetts, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and GBH Forum Network.
  • Grolier Club Appearance with Bradford Morrow
    Grolier Club Post
    Nov 19, 2020, 6:00 PM
    Grolier Club Post
    A conversation between Nick and novelist Bradford Morrow on his new novel, "The Forger's Daughter"
  • How We Go On: Three Lives of Persistence, Resistance, and Resilience
    Massachusetts Historical Society
    Nov 12, 2020, 5:15 PM – 6:30 PM EST
    Massachusetts Historical Society
    Seminar in New England Biography Series sponsored by Massachusetts Historical Society featuring Nick and two other authors of books “published during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” addressing “lessons about persistence, resistance and resilience to be learned from looking at the past.”
  • “The Eternal Passion: A Conversation with Nicholas A. Basbanes,”
    Oct 22, 2020, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT
    A conversation with Kevin O'Sullivan, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts for the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at Texas A&M University, on the making of Nick's first book, "A Gentle Madness."
  • "Happy Hour with Nicholas Basbanes"
    via Zoom
    Oct 21, 2020, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    via Zoom
    An interlude of bibliophilic discussion and conversation about "Cross of Snow" with members of the Rowfant Club, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Friends of the Goddard Library, Clark University
    An Evening with Nicholas Basbanes
    Oct 14, 2020, 5:00 PM
    An Evening with Nicholas Basbanes
    "An Evening with Nicholas Basbanes"
  • Maine Historical Society
    Sep 10, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Join Nick as he discusses the Pine Tree State Roots of the poet, Henry W. Longfellow, Pride of Portland, Maine
  • Nicholas Basbanes on Longfellow
    Virtual Forum
    Aug 25, 2020, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
    Virtual Forum
    A discussion of the poet and the impact of his iconic work, "Paul Revere's Ride"
  • A Virtual Dinner at the Wayside Inn
    Aug 11, 2020, 7:00 PM
  • Discourse & Process: Chat with Nicholas Basbanes hosted by The Mount
    Jul 27, 2020, 4:00 PM
  • American Antiquarian Society + Hellenic Arts Society Conversation
    Jul 23, 2020, 7:00 PM
  • Bowdoin College Hosts a Conversation with Nick
    Jul 13, 2020, 12:00 PM
  • A Conversation with Nick Basbanes and John Babin
    Jul 02, 2020, 7:00 PM

Other events and signings are planned for the fall. Check back here periodically for details.



Media contact, Kathy Zuckerman, deputy director of promotion and publicity,

Alfred A. Knopf,


Literary agent, Glen Hartley,

Writers' Representatives, Inc.,

Email Nicholas A. Basbanes

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