September 26, 2023

Charles Shields Featured in Three Newspapers

Charles Shields, associate director of the Great Lives lecture series, is featured in an article in the Nov.10 issue of The Free Lance-Star. The article discusses Shields’ new biography, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life and the upcoming book discussion in Fredericksburg on Thursday, Nov. 17. Read the full article.

A question-and-answer session with Shields is in Reuters‘ Book Talk. Shields answers questions about Kurt Vonnegut’s life and legacy. Read the full article.

The biography also is featured in an article in USA Today, calling Shields’ work “engaging and surprising.” Read the full article.

Charles Shields’ Biography Reviewed in The New York Times

Today’s issue of The New York Times features a review of “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life” by Charles J. Shields, associate director of the Great Lives lecture series. The full review is here:

Winner of Great Lives Contest Announced

The winner of the Great Lives contest has been determined! The FIRST person to correctly identify the faces on the display in Monroe Hall is… Jeremy Thompson.

The 17 persons featured in the display who have been the subjects of biographies and film are:

1.      Kurt Vonnegut (American novelist)

2.      Marie Curie (discoverer of radium)

3.      Madam CJ Walker (cosmetics entrepreneur)

4.      The Wright Brothers (inventors of the airplane)

5.      P. T. Barnum (circus showman)

6.      Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (first President of Turkey)

7.      Clarence Darrow (American attorney)

8.      Jackie Robinson (first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era)

9.      Noah Webster (creator of the first American dictionary)

10.     General Marquis de Lafayette (French-born general of the American Revolution)

11.     Anne Frank (diarist of her experiences as a Jewish girl in hiding)

12.     Mildred Loving and Richard Perry Loving (plaintiffs in landmark case overturning laws forbidding mixed marriages)

13.     Aaron Burr (American Revolutionary War general, later Vice President)

14.     Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women)

15.     Christopher Columbus (explorer of the New World)

All of the above will be the subjects of presentations in the Great Lives Lecture Series beginning in January 2012. As the winner, Jeremy will have his choice of either dinner for two at the Fredericksburg restaurant of his choice; or, dinner for two with the guest speaker/author of his choice in the spring Great Lives Lecture Series.

Congratulations, Jeremy.

– From Charles J. Shields, associate director of the Great Lives Lecture Series

Charles Shields Publishes Article and Plans Speaking Engagements

Charles J. Shields, associate director of the Great Lives Lecture Series, has an article in the October issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. The article, “Wish You Were Here,” satirizes the supposed glamour of a published author’s life. The issue is available at

Shields will appear at the National Press Club’s 34th Annual Book Fair and Authors’ Night on Tuesday, November 15 in connection with his new biography, “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life.” He also will appear at the Miami International Book Fair and at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. in November.

Great Lives Student Contest

The Great Lives program is sponsoring a contest to see which student can identify the greatest number of famous faces on a display in Monroe Hall. “These are all people of the past, who will each by the subject of a biographer or historian’s lecture during our 2012 season,” said Charles J. Shields, associate director.

The Great Lives/Chappell Lecture Series features approximately 18 biographers, scholars, and historians each spring to talk about the lives of influential persons from all walks of life. The student who can identify the greatest number of famous faces on the display will have his or her choice of dinner for two at a Fredericksburg restaurant, or dinner for two with a guest speaker this spring. Entries must be submitted to Shields ( by Wednesday, October 26 at 5 p.m.. In case of a tie, the first entry received with the highest number of correctly identified faces will be the winner.

“This is the perfect opportunity,” said Shields, “for a student to impress someone special with his or her outstanding grasp of history.”

Charles Shields to Give Writing Center Lecture and Book Discussions

Charles Shields, associate director of Great Lives, will give the lecture “How to Make a Big Research and Writing Project Totally Manageable” on Tuesday, October 11. The lecture, sponsored by UMW Writing Centers, will focus on how to organize large academic projects and will take place at 10 a.m. in Lee Hall, Room 412. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Gwen Hale at (540) 654-1036.

Following the release of his biography of Kurt Vonnegut on November 8— “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life” (Henry Holt & Co.) —Shields will participate in a number of literary events.

The Library of Virginia will host a book launch at the Library of Virginia at noon on Tuesday, November 8. The launch will include a reception and book signing. UMW faculty and staff are invited to attend and light lunch refreshments will be served.

Shields also will appear at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m.; the Griffin Book Shop in Fredericksburg at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17; the Miami Book Fair International on November 19-20; Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, November 22 at 7:00 p.m.; McNally Jackson Booksellers in Soho, N.Y., on Wednesday, November 30 hosting a panel on biography; the CUNY Graduate Center and the Center of Biography in New York for a panel discussion about biography, hosted by jazz critic and biographer, Gary Giddins on Wednesday, December 7; and Fountain Books in Richmond on Friday, December 9 at 12:30 p.m.

Charles Shields Writes Op-Ed and Prepares for Interview

Charles J. Shields, associate director of the Great Lives public lecture series,wrote an op-ed that appeared in a recent edition of The Free Lance-Star. In the op-ed, Shields discusses why the genre of biography is important.

Read the full article.

In late October, the Biography Channel will interview Shields about the subjects of two of his biographies, Harper Lee and Kurt Vonnegut, for a series of three-minute episodes about the lives of famous American novelists.

Shields’ publisher, Henry Holt & Co., recently nominated his upcoming biography, “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life,” for a Pulitzer Prize.

Best-Selling Author Named Associate Director of Great Lives Series

The University of Mary Washington today announced that Charles J. Shields has been named associate director of the university’s Great Lives public lecture series. Shields, a noted historian and author of The New York Times best-selling biography “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,” was an audience favorite when he spoke about Lee as part of the Great Lives series earlier this year.

In his role as associate director, Shields will work closely with Director William B. Crawley Jr., distinguished professor emeritus of history, to promote the lecture series, held annually during the spring semester, on a national level.

Read the full news release.