Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Charles J. Shields  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT C:CHILD C:YA Non-Fiction Other

Born: 1951 in Chester, Pennsylvania


Illinois Connection

Charles Shields was raised in Park Forest, Illinois, attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where he received degrees in English and American history.

Biographical and Professional Information

Charles Shields is a biographer, primarily of 20th century American novelists. In 1997, Shields left a career in high school teaching and administration to write independently. Over the course of the next six years, he published 20 histories and biographies for young people, including a biography of writer Amy Tan, selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Best Books for the Teen Age” in 2003. Shields published his first biography for adults in 2006, and ''Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee'' went on to became a New York Times bestseller.In 2009, with fellow biographers Nigel Hamilton, James McGrath Morris, and Debby Applegate, Shields co-founded ''Biographers International Organization'' (BIO), a non-profit organization founded to promote the art and craft of biography, and to further the professional interests of its practitioners. As of July 2011, BIO has members in 43 American states and 10 nations, including Australia, India, Kenya, and the Netherlands.Shields currently resides in Virginia and is the associate director of the ''Great Lives Lecture Series'' at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia which brings prominent biographers and historians to campus.

Published Works Expand for more information

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