‘Cleopatra’ Author to Give Lunn Lecture

Stacy Schiff to Take Listeners 'In the Archives'

Portrait photo of author Stacy Schiff

Stacy Schiff

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff will give this year’s Lunn Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, May 3. Her talk, “In the Archives: Getting a Life,” begins at 4:10 p.m. in the Buehler Alumni Center’s AGR Hall.

"Essentially the talk is about coaxing a life out of a mass of paper (or non-paper, in Cleopatra’s case) and about the relationship of the archive to the book," Schiff said.

"Different kinds of documentation yield different brands of biography; the most complete archive does not necessarily yield the best life," she said. "To some extent the talk is about reading between the lines, for the eloquent omission and the emphatic erasures."  

Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and Saint-Exupéry: A Biography, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Her book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America, won the George Washington Book Prize.

Her fourth book, Cleopatra: A Life, was a top national bestseller, one of The New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2010 and winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography. Cleopatra has been translated into 30 languages.

book cover showing head of woman adorned in pearls, looking away, face in shadows

Her latest book, The Witches: Salem, 1692, also a No. 1 bestseller, was described by historian David McCullough as “brilliant from start to finish.”

Schiff received a 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Schiff has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications. She lives in New York City.

The history department's annual Lunn Lecture honors cultural historian Eugene Lunn, who taught at UC Davis from 1970 until his death in 1990. Read more about the lectureship and past speakers.