The Modern Library Board Members


The editors of the Modern Library are privileged to have the assistance of a distinguished Board made up of celebrated authors, historians, critics, and publishing luminaries. The members of the Board, listed below, play an integral role in contributing suggestions and advice throughout the year.

In 1998 and 1999, members of the Modern Library Board participated in the “100 Best” project, voting on the 100 Best Novels and 100 Best Non-fiction works, respectively. For more information on this Modern Library project, which was designed to spark a lively, ongoing discussion about great literature, click here.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Poet, writer, performer, teacher and director Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and then went to San Francisco. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she has also written a cookbook, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, five poetry collections, including I Shall Not Be Moved, and Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?, as well as the celebrated poems, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton, “A Brave and Startling Truth,” written at the request of the United Nations and read at its fiftieth anniversary, and “Amazing Peace,” which she read at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. in December 2005.

Photo: © TedHollins.com

A. S. Byatt A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt is the author of Possession, winner of the Booker Prize and a national bestseller. She has taught English and American literature at University College, London, and is a distinguished critic and reviewer. Her other fiction includes Babel Tower, The Shadow of the Sun, The Game, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Sugar and Other Stories, Angels and Insects, and The Matisse Stories. She has also published three volumes of critical work, of which Passions of the Mind is the most recent. She lives in London.

Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr is the series editor for Modern Library War. He was born in Manhattan and grew up on the Lower East Side, where he still lives. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a degree in history. In addition to fiction, Mr. Carr also writes frequently on military and political affairs and is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. His books include the novel The Alienist, its sequel, The Angel of Darkness, and The Devil Soldier. He has also worked in television, film, and the theater.

Photo: © Robin Saidman

Christopher Cerf Christopher Cerf

Christopher Cerf

Christopher Cerf is Chairman of the Board of the Modern Library.

He is – among other things – an author, record and television producer, editor, composer/lyricist, humorist/satirist, educational consultant, computer software designer, and the president of his own company, Christopher Cerf Associates, Inc.

As the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Children’s Television Workshop’s Products Group, Cerf played a pivotal role in the ongoing funding of the Sesame Street television show through the creation, licensing, and production of educational records, toys, and books.

Cerf has been a regular contributor of music and lyrics to Children’s Television Workshop productions. He collected two Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards for songwriting, in 1989 and 1990. Before joining CTW Cerf spent eight years as juvenile and adult senior editor at Random House, where he worked with such writers as George Plimpton, Andy Warhol, Ray Bradbury, and Abbie Hoffman.

He edited and produced Marlo Thomas and Friends’ Free To Be … A Family book, album, and TV special. The book was a number one bestseller and the album, featuring artists like Robin Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Grant, Lili Tomlin, and Soul Asylum sold more than 250,000 copies. The TV special (December 1988) was broadcast on ABC and Soviet television. Cerf received an Emmy as executive producer.

Cerf helped establish the National Lampoon in 1970.

He is co-author, with Victor Navasky, of The Experts Speak; which was republished by Villard in 1998. He is co-author with Henry Beard, Sarah Durkee, and Sean Kelly of The Book of Sequels and with Henry Beard of The Official Politically Correct Dictionary, and of several notable children’s books.

Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier was born in Asheville, North Carolina. Cold Mountain, his first novel, was an international bestseller and won the National Book Award in 1997, as well as the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second book, the bestselling Thirteen Moons, was published by Random House to much critical acclaim in 2006.

Photo © Phil Bray / Miramax Films

Vartan Gregorian

Vartan Gregorian

Vartan Gregorian, a distinguished scholar of Armenian history, has served as Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, President of Brown University, and currently leads the Carnegie Foundation.

Jessica Hagedorn

Jessica Hagedorn is the author of Dogeaters (a National Book Award finalist), The Gangster Of Love and Dream Jungle. Other publications include Danger And Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, and Burning Heart: A Portrait Of The Philippines. She is the editor of Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction and Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home In The World. Hagedorn’s extensive work in theater includes the stage adaptation of Dogeaters.

Richard Howard Richard Howard

Richard Howard

Richard Howard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929. He received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1951 and studied at the Sorbonne as a Fellow of the French Government. He is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, including Trappings: New Poems (Turtle Point Press, 1999); Like Most Revelations: New Poems (1994); Selected Poems (1991); No Traveller (1989); Findings (1971); Untitled Subjects (1969), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; and Quantities (1962). He has published more than 150 translations from the French, including works by Gide, Giraudoux, Cocteau, Camus, De Beauvoir, De Gaulle, Breton, Robbe-Grillet, Barthes, Cioran, Claude Simon, Stendhal, and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, for which he received the 1983 American Book Award for translation. He is also the author of Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States since 1950, which was first published in 1969 and expanded in 1980. In 1994 he edited the Library of America edition of the Travel Writings of Henry James, and in 1995 The Best American Poetry.

His honors include the Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Literary Award, the Ordre National du Merite from the French government, and the PEN Translation Medal, as well as fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He was President of PEN American Center (1979-80) and Poet Laureate of New York State (1994-96). Howard formerly held teaching positions at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, where he was the Luce Visiting Scholar in 1983, and at the University of Houston from 1987 to 1997. Currently he is the poetry editor of The Paris Review and Western Humanities Review. His most recent work is a translation of Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma (Modern Library, 1999). He is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and lives in New York City where he teaches in the Writing Division of the School of the Arts, Columbia University.

Photo © Betsy Bell

Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson, recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, is the author of five works of fiction, including Middle Passage, which won the 1990 National Book Award for fiction; the recently published Dreamer; a collection of short stories, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; and a number of screenplays, including Booker, which received a 1985 Writer’s Guild Award. Johnson has received honorary degrees from Northwestern University and Southern Illinois University, which also administers the Charles Johnson Award for Fiction and Poetry, a nationwide competition for college students. He is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollack Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Washington.

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer is the series editor for Modern Library Exploration. He is the author of Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Eiger Dreams, is an award-winning journalist who has been published in twenty-five languages around the world. He is also an editor-at-large for Outside magazine, and has published articles in Smithsonian, National Geographic, and many other periodicals. He and his wife live in Colorado.

Edmund Morris

Edmund Morris

Edmund Morris was born in Kenya and educated at the Prince of Wales School, Nairobi, and Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before emigrating to the United States in 1968. His biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1980. In 1985 he was appointed Ronald Reagan’s authorized biographer. He has written extensively on travel and the arts for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, and The Washington Post. The second volume of his Roosevelt biography, Theodore Rex was published in 2002. Edmund Morris lives in New York and Washington, D.C., with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.

Photo © Brian Lamb

Azar Nafisi Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. She won a fellowship from Oxford and taught English literature at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University and Allameh Tabatabai University in Iran. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the veil and left Iran for America in 1997. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New Republic, and is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.

Photo © Lili Iravani

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. The bestselling author of the novels We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, she has written numerous works of fiction, poetry, essays, criticism, and plays. Oates’ four novels in The Wonderland Quartet: A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, Them (winner of The National Book Award), and Wonderland are published by The Modern Library.

Photo © Beth Gwinn

Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels is Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Professor Pagels received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1970 and has taught at Barnard College, where she chaired the Department of Religion, and at Columbia University. She was responsible for editing several of the texts from Nag Hammadi and has written five other books: The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis; The Gnostic Paul: The Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters; The Gnostic Gospel; Adam, Eve, and the Serpent; and The Origin of Satan. The Gnostic Gospels won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. Professor Pagels was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 1984. She lives and teaches in Princeton, New Jersey.

Photo © Monica Zucht

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie was born in 1947. He is the author of nine novels: Shalimar the Clown, Grimus, Midnight’s Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Fury. He has published a collection of short stories, East, West, a book of reportage, The Jaguar Smile, two collections of essays, Imaginary Homelands and Step Across This Line, and a work of film criticism about The Wizard of Oz.

Salman Rushdie’s second novel, Midnight’s Children, was awarded both the Booker Prize and the “Booker of Bookers,” as the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. His other accolades include the Whitbread Novel Award, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. Salman Rushdie lives in London and New York.

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks is the author of Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and many other books, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Hawthornden Prize, a Polk Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and lives in New York City, where he is a practicing neurologist.

Photo © Elena Seibert

Carolyn See

Carolyn See

Carolyn See is the author of eleven books, including There Will Never Be Another You, published by Ballantine Books, and has been translated into thirteen languages. She is winner of the PEN WEST Life Time Achievement Award and the Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Life Time Achievement Award, and has been both a Guggenhiem and Getty Fellow. She is Friday Morning Book Reviewer for the Washington Post, and is a professor emeritus at UCLA, where she has inaugurated the Carolyn See Endowment for the Study of Southern California Literature.

Photo © Marilyn Sanders

Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal was born in 1925 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was brought up in Washington, D.C., and attended St. Albans School and the Phillips Exeter Academy. He enlisted in the army at the age of seventeen and served as first mate on an army ship in the Bering Sea, where he wrote his first book, Williwaw. In the sixties, three widely praised novels established Vidal’s reputation as a bestselling author: Julian (1964); Washington, D.C. (1967); and Myra Breckinridge (1968). His collected essays, United States, won the National Book Award in 1993. In 1995 he published a memoir, Palimpsest, which the London Sunday Times called “one of the best first-person accounts of this century we are likely to get.” The Essential Gore Vidal was published by Random House in 1999.

Photo © Jane Bown


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