T.J. Stiles

April 12: Biographer to speak

'Last Tycoon' author T.J. Stiles featured speaker at UD Library Associates dinner


8:12 a.m., March 24, 2011--The University of Delaware Library announces that the award-winning biographer T.J. Stiles will be the featured speaker at the 2011 annual dinner of the University of Delaware Library Associates to be held on Tuesday, April 12, at Arsht Hall on UD’s Wilmington campus.

Stiles will speak on his 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning biography, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, published in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf. Stiles also won the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction for the Vanderbilt work. 

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Cornelius Vanderbilt owned shipping lines and railroads in the 1800s and was of interest to Stiles because, as he observed, the details of his life were so interesting, and at the same time, his life and times told the story of the beginnings of big business in the United States that has relevance today.

The First Tycoon “is a mighty -- and mighty confident -- work, one that moves with force and conviction and imperious wit  …  I read eagerly and avidly. This state-of-the-art biography is crisper and more piquant than a 600-page book has any right to be,” stated Dwight Garner of The New York Times.

Stiles’s first book was Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, which won the Ambassador Book Award and the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship and was a New York Times Notable Book. He is currently working on a biography of George Armstrong Custer. 

Stiles has said that there are three stages to writing a biography -- research, analysis and writing the narrative -- and that he really enjoys them all. “One of the things I try to do in a biography is give the reader a reason to turn every page,” he has commented.

The author of numerous reviews and essays, Stiles has written for The New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Atlantic online, and the New York Observer.

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt will be available for purchase before and after the dinner, and Stiles has agreed to sign copies.

The evening will begin with a hospitality hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7. The invitation can be viewed online in PDF format, on the library website, or a printed invitation can be requested by calling the Office of the Vice Provost at 302-831-2231. This event will be open to the public with a paid dinner reservation. 

Members of the University of Delaware Library Associates are $99 per person and guests (non-members) are $140 per person. A table of eight persons can be reserved for $1,200. The guest rate also includes a first-year membership in the University of Delaware Library Associates.

Photo by Michael Lionstar, used with permission

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