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“No living person has thought more about the extraordinary power of books than Nicholas Basbanes.” —Ellis Henican, Newsday

“No one writes with more verve and fluency about the history of books and reading than bibliophile Basbanes."
—Donna Seaman, Booklist 


Nicholas A. Basbanes


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 a finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and was named a best book of the year by seven major publications. His most recent book, Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Knopf,2020), received top honors in nonfiction from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress, for the Massachusetts Book Award. In 2016, he was awarded a Public Scholar research fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities, his second NEH grant.

His articles, essays, OpEds, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Humanities, Smithsonian, Civilization and The Book Collector. During the pandemic, he began writing a series of signed biographical essays of the principal correspondents of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning for The Brownings’ Correspondence, a publishing project funded since its inception in 1984 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and now in its twenty-eighth volume. He also writes the “Gently Mad” column for Fine Books & Collections magazine, a quarterly, and lecture widely on book-related subjects.. He and his wife Constance live in Massachusetts. They are the parents of two adult daughters, Barbara Basbanes Richter and Nicole Basbanes Claire.



In The Press


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,


Interviews, Appearances, and Discussions

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 

In the Media


Literary agent, Glen Hartley

Writers' Representatives, Inc.

Email Nicholas A. Basbanes

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