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About page


I always wanted to be a writer.

First it was reading. I adored looking at picture books, even before I could walk or talk. The children's room in the neighborhood library in my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, was a wondrous place for me. When I learned to read the wiggly black marks in colorful picture books, it was a revelation. I began to read all the time--especially children's biographies of girls who became famous.

I began writing as a schoolgirl, almost always about what had really happened rather than what I imagined happening. In high school I began keeping a writer's notebook in a creative writing class. It led in college to begin a personal journal, which has continued more or less until now, when it has again become mostly a writer's notebook.

My first job after college was working for The Providence Journal, where I got my first professional bylines for writing feature stories. After moving to New York City, I worked for Newsweek magazine before writing my first book, a biography of the iconic American painter, Georgia O'Keeffe, Portrait of an Artist.

After buying a house with a sunny spacious writing room in a village in New England, and working on another biography, this time about sculptor Louise Nevelson, I began to write books drawing on my own experiences--like passing up motherhood, passionately tending a flower garden, and going to a traditional girls' boarding school in Connecticut.

Now, drawing extensively on my many journals, I have written a memoir, Word for Word: A Writer's Life. It has been an extraordinary inner journey--full of memories, discoveries, and insights--enriching my understanding of the past and the present.

Besides writing nonfiction books, I publish essays, book reviews, and articles in newspapers, literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, such as Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, The Journal of the Southwest, Childfree Across the Disciplinesand From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe as Icon. I have also published book reviews in Women's Studies and Woman's Art Journal and other publications. 


I am a board member of the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon. I am also a member of a long-standing academic seminar for biographers and memoirists, Women Writing Women's Lives, in New York City. Other memberships include the Authors Guild and PEN American Center. I have also been awarded fellowships at writers' colonies, including at MacDowell.  

I live with my husband, painter, and printmaker Robert Kipniss, in the town of Sharon in the hills of northwestern Connecticut. It's where I write and garden and he makes prints.