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)




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


  • Massachusetts Historical Society
    Massachusetts Historical Society
  • American Inspiration Author Series
    GBH Network Forum
  • Grolier Club Appearance with Bradford Morrow
    Grolier Club Post
  • How We Go On: Three Lives of Persistence, Resistance, and Resilience
    Massachusetts Historical Society
  • “The Eternal Passion: A Conversation with Nicholas A. Basbanes,”
  • "Happy Hour with Nicholas Basbanes"
    via Zoom
  • Friends of the Goddard Library, Clark University
    An Evening with Nicholas Basbanes
  • Maine Historical Society
  • Nicholas Basbanes on Longfellow
    Virtual Forum
  • A Virtual Dinner at the Wayside Inn
  • Discourse & Process: Chat with Nicholas Basbanes hosted by The Mount
  • American Antiquarian Society + Hellenic Arts Society Conversation
  • Bowdoin College Hosts a Conversation with Nick
  • A Conversation with Nick Basbanes and John Babin
  • A Conversation with Poisoned Pen Bookstore
    Online Event

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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