Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Edmund White  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Born: 1940 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Sites:


Illinois Connection

When White was seven years he moved to Evanston with his mother and sister.

Biographical and Professional Information

Edmund White is a novelist, writer of memoirs and an essayist on literary and social topics. He lives in New York and teaches at Princeton. White is one of the best-known writers in gay fiction though his works also include non-fiction and fiction on a wide variety of themes. He has won acclaim from both gay and mainstream literary critics. Along with the books he has written, he also edited the book, ''Loss Within Loss: Artists in the Age of AIDS'' in 2001 and compiled the anthology ''Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction'' with Don Weise in 2004.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Forgetting Elena: A Novel
ISBN: 067975573X

Vintage. 1994

Combining glittering wit, an atmosphere dense in social paranoia, and a breathtaking elegance and precision of language, White's first novel suggests a hilarious apotheosis of the comedy of manners. For, on the privileged island community where Forgetting Elena takes place, manners are everything. Or so it seems to White's excruciatingly self-conscious young narrator who desperately wants to be accepted in this world where everything from one's bathroom habits to the composition of "spontaneous" poetry is subject to rigid conventions.

THE JOY OF GAY SEX
ISBN: B000XQ4RRS

Simon & Schuster/Fireside. 1977

America's Best-Selling Gay Love-Making. Complete and Unabridged - Illustrated Edition with color plates and b/w illustrations. Written by gays for gays. A celebration of the sensual, the sexual, the wildly erotic and, most expecially, the love one man can feel for another. 207 pages, 7 x 10 1/4".

Nocturnes for the King of Naples
ISBN: 0312022638

St. Martin's Griffin. 1988

A hauntingly beautiful evocation of lost love, Noctunes for the King of Naples has all the startling, almost embarrassing, intimacy of a stranger's love letters. The intense emotional situation envelops the readers from the first page

like all images in a dream, White's characters are the most real people we know, thought they remain phantoms. Each chapter, each nocturne, is set in a different emotional key, but all are interconnected through such subtle modulations that the final effect is devastating.

States of Desire: Travels In Gay America
ISBN: 0525222359

Dutton Adult. 1980

In this city-by-city description of the way homosexual men lived in the late seventies, Edmund White gives us a picture of Gay America that will surprise gay and straight readers alike. With great wit and humor, the co-author of The Joy of Gay Sex tells what goes on behind the glittering surface of fashionable nightspots and glamorous resorts. But he also shows us gay engineers, gay computer experts, and gay cowboys

this is a look at a vast world never before documented. By introducing us to a wide variety of gay people, White gives us remarkable new insights into what it means to be gay in America.

In States of Desire, you will meet a gay timber baron from Portland and a "big-wig" (literally as well as figuratively) in the Florida drag world. Here are: handsome lifeguards in Chicago—those "bronzed demigods . . . who lord it above us on their white wood towers"

a Hollywood host who has just spent "a typical L.A. day, driving 150 miles assembling the twelve ingredients for supper"

a San Franciscan who embraces his friends "with long, therapeutic hugs, silently searching their faces for the weather report of their subtlest, innermost feelings"

and Boston gay radicals, who defend some of the most controversial positions that concern society today. You will hear the stories of gay Cubans in Miami, a gay lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and even a self-appointed gay Mormon prophet in Salt Lake City—all narrated with a novelist's fine ear for nuance.

Into this vivid tapestry of people and places the author weaves the pros and cons of such issues as gay radicalism, the "urban gay renaissance" and the much discussed gay penchant for hedonism and sexual extremism. Above all, White shows the remarkable possibilities for gay life today—from the black gay ghettos of Atlanta to communes in New England

from "friendship networks" in New York City to New Orleans-style "uptown marriages" (in which men live with wife and children uptown and keep a boy in the Quarter)

from Kansas City, where the self-oppression of 1950s gay life still reigns supreme, to Fire Island's unrivaled "spectacle of gay affluence and gay-male beauty." For this eye-opening book makes clear that gay life is every bit as rich and varied as the many gay lives the author so effectively describes.

A Boy's Own Story
ISBN: 0375707409

Vintage. 2000

An instant classic upon its original publication, A Boy's Own Story is the first of Edmund White's highly acclaimed trilogy of autobiographical novels that brilliantly evoke a young man's coming of age and document American gay life through the last forty years.

The nameless narrator in this deeply affecting work reminisces about growing up in the 1950s with emotionally aloof, divorced parents, an unrelenting sister, and the schoolmates who taunt him. He finds consolation in literature and his fantastic imagination. Eager to cultivate intimate, enduring friendships, he becomes aware of his yearning to be loved by men, and struggles with the guilt and shame of accepting who he is. Written with lyrical delicacy and extraordinary power, A Boy's Own Story is a triumph.

Caracole (Vintage International)
ISBN: 067976416X

Vintage. 1996

In French caracole means "prancing"

in English, "caper." Both words perfectly describe this high-spirited erotic adventure. In Caracole, White invents an entire world where country gentry languish in decaying mansions and foppish intellectuals exchange lovers and gossip in an occupied city that resembles both Paris under the Nazis and 1980s New York. To that city comes Gabriel, an awkward boy from the provinces whose social navet and sexual ardor make him endlessly attractive to a variety of patrons and paramours.

"A seduction through language, a masque without masks, Caracole brings back to startling life a dormant strain in serious American writing: the idea of the romantic."--Cynthia Ozick

The Beautiful Room Is Empty: A Novel
ISBN: 0679755403

Vintage. 1994

When the narrator of White's poised yet scalding autobiographical novel first embarks on his sexual odyssey, it is the 1950s, and America is "a big gray country of families on drowsy holiday." That country has no room for a scholarly teenager with guilty but insatiable stirrings toward other men. Moving from a Midwestern college to the Stonewall Tavern on the night of the first gay uprising--and populated by eloquent queens, butch poseurs, and a fearfully incompetent shrink--The Beautiful Room is Empty conflates the acts of coming out and coming of age.

"With intelligence, candor, humor--and anger--White explores the most insidious aspects of oppression.... An impressive novel."--Washington Post book World

The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis (Plume)
ISBN: 0452260701

Plume. 1988

The Darker Proof, an anthology of stories about suffering with the HIV virus, was first published in 1987 to critical acclaim. This updated version, which includes stories by Adam Mars-Jones and Edmund White, was published in 1988.

The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction
ISBN: 0571129080

Faber & Faber. 1992

White has created a richly diverse anthology that explores the literary expression of male homosexuality in the American and English tradition. Contributors include Henry James, Alfred Chester, Armistead Maupin, Neil Bartlett, Allan Gurganus, and others. A Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Genet: A Biography
ISBN: 0679754792

Vintage. 1994

A meticulously researched biography of Jean Genet, one of France's most notorious writers. Acclaimed novelist and essayist Edmund White illuminates Genet's experiences in the worlds of crime, homosexuality, politics, and high culture, and gives a compelling analysis of Genet's plays, novels, and essays. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

The Burning Library: Essays
ISBN: 0679754741

Vintage. 1995

Along with his groundbreaking essays that redefine politics, language, identity, and friendship in the light of gay experience and desire, this magisterial collection of 25 years of White's nonfiction writings includes dazzling subversive appreciations of cultural icons as diverse as Truman Capote and Cormac McCarthy, Robert Mapplethorpe and the singer formerly known as Prince. Reading tour.

Our Paris: Sketches from Memory
ISBN: 0679441662

Knopf. 1995

With 30 drawings by Hubert Sorin.

Skinned Alive: Stories
ISBN: 067975475X

Vintage. 1996

The eight stories in this erotic and heartbreaking collection are barometers of difference. They measure the distance between an American expatriate and the Frenchman who tutors him in table manners and rough sex

the gulf between a man dying of AIDS and his uncomprehending relatives.

The Farewell Symphony
ISBN: 0679754768

Vintage. 1998

Following A Boy's Own Story (now a classic of American fiction) and his richly acclaimed The Beautiful Room Is Empty, here is the eagerly awaited final volume of Edmund White's groundbreaking autobiographical trilogy.

Named for the work by Haydn in which the instrumentalists leave the stage one after another until only a single violin remains playing, this is the story of a man who has outlived most of his friends. Having reached the six-month anniversary of his lover's death, he embarks on a journey of remembrance that will recount his struggle to become a writer and his discovery of what it means to be a gay man. His witty, conversational narrative transports us from the 1960s to the near present, from starkly erotic scenes in the back rooms of New York clubs to episodes of rarefied hilarity in the salons of Paris to moments of family truth in the American Midwest. Along the way, a breathtaking variety of personal connections--and near misses--slowly builds an awareness of the transformative power of genuine friendship, of love and loss, culminating in an indelible experience with a dying man. And as the flow of memory carries us across time, space and society, one man's magnificently realized story grows to encompass an entire generation.

Sublimely funny yet elegiac, full of unsparingly trenchant social observation yet infused with wisdom and a deeply felt compassion, The Farewell Symphony is a triumph of reflection and expressive elegance. It is also a stunning and wholly original panorama of gay life over the past thirty years--the crowning achievement of one of our finest writers.

Marcel Proust
ISBN: 0670880574

Viking Adult. 1999

Profiles Proust beyond his reclusive and obsessive persona, as a lonely young boy, darling of Parisian salons, fame seeker, and troubled homosexual. By the award-winning author of Genet: a Biography. 20,000 first printing.

The Married Man
ISBN: 0375400052

Alfred A. Knopf. 2000

Austin is an American furniture scholar living in Paris. He is pushing fifty, loveless, drifting. One day at the gym he meets Julien: French, an architect, much younger and married. Against every expectation, this chance acquaintance matures into profound romance.

As the two men dash between bohemian suppers and sophisticated salons, their only impediments are the easily surmountable and comic clashes of culture, age and temperament. Inevitably, however, Julien's past catches up with them. With increasing desperation, in a quest to save health and happiness, they move from the shuttered squares of Venice to sun-drenched Key West, to Montreal in the snow and Providence in the rain. But it is amid the bleak, baking sands of the Sahara that their love is pushed to its ultimate crisis.

Haunting and deeply moving, The Married Man carries the reader along with its protagonists into uncharted emotional territory, over the rim of love and loss. It is Edmund White's finest novel.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris
ISBN: 1582341354

Bloomsbury USA. 2001

Bloomsbury is proud to announce the first title in an occasional series in which some of the world's finest novelists reveal the secrets of the city they know best. These beautifully produced, pocket-sized books will provide exactly what is missing in ordinary travel guides: insights and imagination that lead the reader into those parts of a city no other guide can reach.

A flaneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through a city without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the place and in covert search of adventure, esthetic or erotic. Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, taking us into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians. Entering the Marais evokes the history of Jews in France, just as a visit to the Haynes Grill recalls the presence-festive, troubled-of black Americans in Paris for a century and a half. Gays, Decadents, even Royalists past and present are all subjected to the flaneur's scrutiny.

Edmund White's The Flaneur is opinionated, personal, subjective. As he conducts us through the bookshops and boutiques, past the monuments and palaces, filling us in on the gossip and background of each site, he allows us to see through the blank walls and past the proud edifices and to glimpse the inner, human drama. Along the way he recounts everything from the latest debates among French law-makers to the juicy details of Colette's life in the Palais Royal, even summoning up the hothouse atmosphere of Gustave Moreau's atelier.

Fanny: A Fiction
ISBN: 0060004843

Ecco / HarperCollins. 2003

In her fifties, Mrs. Frances Trollope became famous overnight for her book attacking the United States. Twenty-five years later, she sharpens her pen for her most controversial work yet -- the biography of her old friend, the radical and feminist Fanny Wright. She recalls the 1820s when the young Fanny erupted into the Trollopes' sleepy English cottage like a volcano, her red hair flying, her talk aflame with utopian ideals. Before long, Wright has convinced Frances to follow her to America, a journey of extreme penury, frontier hardships, and the most satisfying sensual romance of Frances Trollope's life.

The biography soon degenerates into a settling of scores and digressions on the misadventures of Mrs. Trollope's own family. By turns noble and petty, comic and tragic, it introduces us to literary lions, battling political theorists, gamblers and escaped slaves, and even the aging General Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. With hallucinatory realism, Mrs. Trollope paints French chteaux, Belgian fogs, Mississippi mud, and the gaudy splendors and cruelties of Haiti. And throughout this sparkling narrative, we find love in all its forms -- in the family, between races and generations, and within the same sex.

Fanny: A Fiction is a wonderful new departure for Edmund White -- a quirky, dazzling story of two extraordinary nineteenth-century women, and a vibrant, questioning exploration of the nature of idealism, the clay feet of heroes, and the illusory power of the American dream.

Arts and Letters
ISBN: 1573441953

Cleis Press. 2004

Best-selling novelist, memoirist, and biographer Edmund White displays his sharp wit and boundless erudition in 37 portraits of the writers, artists and cultural icons who have captured his curiosity and imagination for the last 20 years.

White is as compelling as he is unpretentious as he tells of his encounters with some of the most provocative writers, artists, and personalities of our time. Marcel Proust, Catherine Deneuve, David Geffen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andre Gide, Michel Foucault, Andy Warhol, Vladimir Nabokov, Jean Genet, Jasper Johns, and Elton John are among the cast.

My Lives: An Autobiography
ISBN: 0066213975

Ecco. 2006

No one has been more frank, lucid, rueful and entertaining about growing up gay in Middle America than Edmund White. Best known for his autobiographical novels, starting with A Boy's Own Story, White here takes fiction out of his story and delivers the facts of his life in all their shocking and absorbing verity.

From an adolescence in the 1950s, an era that tried to "cure his homosexuality" but found him "unsalvageable," he emerged into a 1960s society that redesignated his orientation as "acceptable (nearly)." He describes a life touched by psychotherapy in every decade, starting with his flamboyant and demanding therapist mother, who considered him her own personal test case -- and personal escort to cocktail lounges after her divorce. His father thought that even wearing a wristwatch was effeminate, though custodial visits to Dad in Cincinnati inadvertently initiated White into the culture of "hustlers and johns" that changed his life.

In My Lives, White shares his enthusiasms and his passions -- for Paris, for London, for Jean Genet -- and introduces us to his lovers and predilections, past and present. "Now that I'm sixty-five," writes White, "I think this is a good moment to write a memoir. . . . Sixty-five is the right time for casting a backward glance, while one is still fully engaged in one's life."

Terre Haute (Modern Plays)
ISBN: 0713687940

Methuen Drama. 2007

Drama/ 2m A famous author comes face-to-face with America's most notorious terrorist. One has a story to write, the other has a story to tell. As the clock ticks on death row, a strange bond grows between the two men. Filled with clever sparring and raw emotion, this is a tuat drama that touches on the definitions of freedom and the need for love. The Daily Telegraph in London hailed Terre Haute as, "topical, transgressive and thrillingly dramatic." "White has captured the amusingly constricted voices of the patrician novelist and the plebian terrorist cannily and cogently." -Charles Isherwood, The New York Times "...provides us a concise and haunting retelling of the facts, plus an imaginative and realistic creation of 'what could have been'." -broadwayworld.com

Chaos: A Novella and Stories
ISBN: 0786720050

Running Press. 2007

When a respected older man clings to the values and mores of the liberated 1970s, when he pursues sex relentlessly and his reputation suffers, Chaos ensues. White explores different aspects of aging, romance, and sex, inviting his readers to come with him to Florida, the Greek Isles, and Turkey — and into the chaotic gay demimonde of contemporary New York.

Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel
ISBN: 0060852259

Ecco. 2007

In a damp, old sussex castle, American literary phenomenon Stephen Crane lies on his deathbed, wasting away from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-eight. The world-famous author of The Red Badge of Courage has retreated to England with his wife, Cora, in part to avoid gossip about her ignominious past as the proprietress of a Florida bordello, the Hotel de Dream.

Though Crane's days are numbered, he and Cora live riotously, running up bills they'll never be able to pay, receiving visitors like Henry James and Joseph Conrad, and even planning a mad dash to Germany's Black Forest, where Cora hopes a leading TB specialist will provide a miracle cure.

Then, in the midst of the confusion and gathering tragedy of their lives, Crane begins dictating a strange novel. The Painted Boy draws from Crane's erstwhile journalist days in New York in the 1890s, a poignant story about a boy prostitute and the married man who ruins his own life to win the boy's love. Crane originally planned the book as a companion piece to Maggie, Girl of the Streets, but abandoned it when literary friends convinced him that such scandalous subject matter would destroy his career. Now, with his last breath, Crane devotes himself to refashioning this powerful novel, into which he pours his fascination with the underworld, his sympathy for the poor, his experiences as a reporter among New York's lowlife—and his complex feelings for his own devoted wife.

Seamlessly flowing between the vibrant, seedy atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Manhattan and the quiet Sussex countryside, Hotel de Dream tenderly presents the double love stories of Cora and Crane, and the painted boy and his banker lover. The brilliant novel-within-a-novel combines the youthful simplicity of Crane's own prose with White's elegant sense of form, offering an unforgettable portrait of passion in all its guises.

Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel
ISBN: 1934633151

Atlas. 2008

The distinguished biographer, novelist, and memoirist Edmund White brings his literary mastery to a new biography of Arthur Rimbaud.

Poet and prodigy Arthur Rimbaud led a life that was startlingly short, but just as dramatically eventful and accomplished. Even today, over a century after his death in 1891, his visionary poetry has continued to influence everyone from Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan to Patti Smith. His long poem A Season in Hell (1873) and his collection Illuminations (1886) are essential to the modern canon, marked by a hallucinatory and hypnotic style that defined the Symbolist movement in poetry. Having sworn off writing at the age of twenty-one, Rimbaud drifted around the world from scheme to scheme, ultimately dying from an infection contracted while running guns in Africa. He was thirty-seven.

Edmund White writes with a historian's eye for detail, driven by a genuine personal investment in his subject. White delves deep into the young poet's relationships with his family, his teachers, and his notorious affair with the more established poet Paul Verlaine. He follows the often elusive (sometimes blatant) threads of sexual taboo that haunt Rimbaud's poems (in those days, sodomy was a crime) and offers incisive interpretations of the poems, using his own artful translations to bring us closer to the mercurial poet.

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s
ISBN: 1596914025

Bloomsbury USA. 2009

In the New Y ork of the 1970s, in the wake of Stonewall and in the midst of economic collapse, you might find the likes of Jasper Johns and William Burroughs at the next cocktail party, and you were as likely to be caught arguing Marx at the New York City Ballet as cruising for sex in the warehouses and parked trucks along the Hudson. This is the New York that Edmund White portrays in City Boy: a place of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult. Combining the no-holds-barred confession and yearning of A Boy's Own Story with the easy erudition and sense of place of The Flaneur, this is the story of White's years in 1970s New York, bouncing from intellectual encounters with Susan Sontag and Harold Brodkey to erotic entanglements downtown to the burgeoning gay scene of artists and writers. I t's a moving, candid, brilliant portrait of a time and place, full of encounters with famous names and cultural icons.

Sacred Monsters
ISBN: 1936833115

Magnus Books. 2012

Edmund White is one of our most celebrated novelists. He is also a brilliant journalist and cultural commentator on the arts, contributing to publications as varied The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Washington Post, House and Garden, and the New York Review of Books. In Sacred Monsters, White collects more than twenty of his most recent writings on artists and authors, including John Cheever, Patti Smith, Henry James, Mary Cassatt, Paul Bowles, Andy Warhol, John Singer Sargent, Vladimir Nabokov, Auguste Rodin, Edith Wharton, Christopher Isherwood, Martin Amis, Allen Ginsberg, Marguerite Duras, John Rechy, Ford Maddox Ford, David Hockney, Reynolds Price, E.M. Forster, James Abbott McNeil Whistler, and Marcel Proust, among others.

Jack Holmes and His Friend: A Novel
ISBN: 1608197034

Bloomsbury USA. 2012

Jack Holmes and Will Wright arrive in New York in the calm before the storm of the 1960s. Coworkers at a cultural journal, they soon become good friends. Jack even introduces Will to the woman he will marry. But their friendship is complicated: Jack is also in love with Will. Troubled by his subversive longings, Jack sees a psychiatrist and dates a few women, while also pursuing short-lived liaisons with other men. But in the two decades of their friendship, from the first stirrings of gay liberation through the catastrophe of AIDS, Jack remains devoted to Will. And as Will embraces his heterosexual sensuality, nearly destroying his marriage, the two men share a newfound libertinism in a city that is itself embracing its freedom.

Moving among beautifully delineated characters in a variety of social milieus, Edmund White brings narrative daring and an exquisite sense of life's submerged drama to this masterful exploration of friendship, sexuality, and sensibility during a watershed moment in history.

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris
ISBN: 1608195821

Bloomsbury USA. 2014

When Edmund White moved to Paris in 1983, leaving New York City in the midst of the AIDS crisis, he was forty-three years old, couldn't speak French, and only knew two people in the entire city. But in middle age, he discovered the new anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new culture. When he left fifteen years later to take a teaching position in the U.S., he was fluent enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and in his work as a journalist, he'd made the acquaintance of everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Catherine Deneuve to Michel Foucault. He'd also developed a close friendship with an older woman, Marie-Claude, through which he'd come to understand French life and culture in a deeper way.

The book's title evokes the Parisian landscape in the eternal mists and the half-light, the serenity of the city compared to the New York White had known (and vividly recalled in City Boy). White fell headily in love with the city and its culture: both intoxicated and intellectually stimulated. He became the definitive biographer of Jean Genet

he wrote lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud

and he became a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Inside a Pearl recalls those fertile years for White. It's a memoir which gossips and ruminates, and offers a brilliant examination of a city and a culture eternally imbued with an aura of enchantment.


Awards

-- The Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1982

-- Chevalier (later Officier) de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, 1993

-- Made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1997

-- Made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1999

-- Prize of the Festival of Deauville (France), Entire body of work, 2000

-- ''The Beautiful Room is Empty'' -- *Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Fiction, 1988

-- '''''Genet''''' -- *National Book Critics Circle Award, 1994

-- *Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Biography/Autobiography, 1993

-- '''''Skinned Alive''''' -- *Critics 1 Choice Award, San Francisco Review of Books, 1995-96

-- '''''The Married Man''''' -- *Ferro-Grumley Award from the Publishing Triangle, 2001

-- '''''Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction''''' -- *Lambda Literary Award for Anthologies, 2004