The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 10, 2012

Roosevelt biographer to present Humanities Council lecture


CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Humanities Council will present “The Nine Lives of Theodore Roosevelt” by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Edmund Morris for the annual McCreight Lecture in the Humanities. Morris is the author of a three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s 26th president.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the theater of the Culture Center in Charleston. A book signing will follow the program in the Great Hall.

Teddy Roosevelt overcame poor health in childhood to lead an amazingly active life. He was governor of New York, police commissioner of New York City, assistant secretary of the Navy, colonel of the Rough Riders, a deputy sheriff in the Dakota Territory, rancher in the Badlands, a founder of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, big game hunter, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, author of more than 35 books, an original member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, president of the American Historical Association, and a leading conservationist and naturalist. When President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt became the youngest president in the nation’s history. His likeness is immortalized on Mount Rushmore. The teddy bear is his other great monument.

As he guided the United States more actively into world politics, President Roosevelt often quoted a favorite proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” to express his approach to foreign policy. In domestic affairs, he may best be remembered for conservation efforts that reserved lands for public use in the West and expanded the number of national parks.

Author Edmund Morris was born and educated in Kenya and immigrated to the United States in 1968. His book, “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt,” won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1980. In 2001 Morris published “Theodore Rex.” It became an immediate bestseller, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography, and currently has three-quarters of a million copies in print.

“As a literary work on Theodore Roosevelt, it is unlikely ever to be surpassed,” the Times Literary Supplement declared, calling it “one of the great histories of the American presidency, worthy of being on a shelf alongside Henry Adams’ volumes on Jefferson and Madison.”

In November 2010, a chorus of praise greeted the publication of “Colonel Roosevelt,” the final volume of Morris’ trilogy. Within two weeks it was a New York Times bestseller. Janet Maslin wrote in that paper: “With ‘Colonel Roosevelt,’ the magnum opus is complete. And it deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject.”

Morris lives in New York City and Kent, Conn. He has also produced biographies of Ronald Reagan and Ludwig van Beethoven and is currently working on a life of Thomas Edison.

Morris appears extensively on national television. He has been the subject of a two-segment profile on 60 Minutes. His Roosevelt and Beethoven biographies were both featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

He has written on literature and music for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s and other periodicals. He is a member of the Modern Library Editorial Board and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Chicago.

Morris has lectured many places, including Harvard, Princeton, and Brown universities, the New York Historical Society, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A classically trained pianist, he made his debut in 2007 at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Humanities Council officials are pleased that Morris has agreed to speak at their annual flagship event.

“I was fortunate to have a course in college under the great TR biographer, William Harbaugh,” Executive Director Ken Sullivan said. “It made a big impression on me. The story of Teddy Roosevelt is tremendously exciting, and the man to tell that story for this generation is Edmund Morris.”