Scott Donaldson


To purchase the author's books online, click on the links in the Selected Works column on the right side of this page.

Biography

Career Summary


One of the nation's leading literary biographers, Scott Donaldson has written eight books about 20th century American authors. These include Poet in America: Winfield Townley Scott (1972), By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway (1977), Fool for Love, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1983), John Cheever: A Biography (1988), Archibald MacLeish: An American Life (1992), winner of the 1993 Ambassador Book Award for biography, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship (1999), which has been translated into four languages, Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet's Life (2007), named the best biography of the year by Contemporary Poetry Forum, Fitzgerald and Hemingway: Works and Days (2009), and Death of a Rebel: The Charlie Fenton Story (2011).

Donaldson has also published many articles on American literature and culture and edited a number of books, among them Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (1984), Conversations with John Cheever (1987), New Essays on "A Farewell to Arms" (1990), the Cambridge Companion to Hemingway (1996), and Robinson: Poems (2007, in the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series.

After beginning his career as a newspaper reporter and editor in Minneapolis, Donaldson decided he wanted to write something that would not be used a day later to wrap the fish in. He took his PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1966, and journeyed east to teach -- and write -- at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, retiring in 1992 as Louise G.T. Cooley Professor or English, Emeritus.

Awards and Positions


During his academic career, Donaldson was twice a Fulbright senior lecturer, in Finland and Italy. He spent a year teaching as the Bruern fellow at the University of Leeds in England, and a semester as a visiting fellow at Princeton, where he read through the Fitzgerald archive.

He received two major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support his research and writing, as well as awards from the Rockefeller foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the American Philosophical Society, and William and Mary. In 1994 he was listed among prominent 20th century Virginia authors by the Virginia Center for the book. In 1996 he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and given the MidAmerica award for contributions to midwestern literature. He won both the Sewanee Review's Monroe K. Spears prize (1999) for best essay and the journal's Robert Heilman prize (2002) for book reviewing.

Donaldson was a founding director of the Fulbright Alumni Association, and for several years evaluated applicants for senior Fulbright awards for the Center for the International Exchange of Scholars. During the 1980s he served four-year terms as an editor of American Literature and as author of the chapter on Hemingway and Fitzgerald in American Literary Scholarship.

In 1999 he was elected to the board of the Hemingway Foundation/​Society, which holds biennial conferences in the United States and abroad, publishes The Hemingway Review, makes grants to young scholars, and annually gives the Hemingway Foundation/​PEN award for the best first work of fiction. From 2000 through 2002 he served as president of the foundation.

Now living in Scottsdale, with summers in San Diego, Donaldson continutes to write books, articles, and review essays.

Selected Works

Biographies
Fitzgerald and Hemingway: Works and Days
With this book "Donaldson continues to show himself as a beacon in American literary scholarship, a major voice with an awareness of the interconnectedness between biography and criticism." - Joseph Fruscione, American Literary Scholarship 2009
Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet's Life
"For too long Edwin Arlington Robinson has been consigned to the ranks of peripheral poets. Scott Donaldson -- a gifted biographer -- has brought this remarkable man and his poetry vividly to life." --Jay Parini, poet/novelist/biographer
Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald
"...fresh, risky, talky, bold, and ultimately brilliant. We close [the book] deeply satisfied that we’ve read all there is to know about the men."
--Denise Gess, Raleigh News and Observer
John Cheever: A Biography
"John Cheever: A Biography is clearly an indispensable book."
--Dan Cryer, Newsday
Fool for Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald
"A stunning portrait...full of intriguing insights."
--Publishers Weekly