Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor Megan Marshall’s most recent biography, Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) was shortlisted for a 2018 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award.
Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards fall into three nonfiction categories; Marshall’s book is nominated for a Christian Gauss Award, which “celebrates outstanding books in the field of literary scholarship or criticism,” according to the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Marshall, who has won numerous awards for her work, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), said being shortlisted for a PBK award is “particularly meaningful.”
In Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, Marshall weaves in passages of memoir (she studied poetry with Bishop at Harvard in the 1970s) throughout the biography.
“[T]he PBK exercises at Harvard commencement feature in some intriguing plot developments in my book,” Marshall said, “both Elizabeth Bishop’s memorable reading of her great poem, ‘The Moose,’ in June 1972, and my own somewhat rocky experience at graduation in 1977, after having taken a poetry workshop with Miss Bishop that year.
“Also, my previous biographies have been viewed more as historical works. It’s a great compliment to have Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast acknowledged as a work of literary scholarship.”
Elizabeth Bishop joins four other books in the Christian Gauss category: At Home in the World (Princeton University Press, 2017) by Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord; Henry David Thoreau: A Life (University of Chicago Press, 2017) by Laura Dassow Walls; Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History (Harvard University Press, 2017) by Joseph North; and The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Greywolf Press, 2017) by Edwidge Danticat.
“The five finalists … are all wonderful, challenging books, and I’m proud to find mine among them,” Marshall said.
Other PBK Book Award categories include the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Science and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, which “honors studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.”
Finalists and winners are selected by a panel of experts in each category. Winning authors will receive a $10,000 prize at a dinner held in Washington D.C. in December.
In addition to her biographies of Elizabeth Bishop and Margaret Fuller, Marshall is the author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005), which was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Biography, and won the 2006 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, the 2005 Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, and the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction.