Blake Bailey grew up in Oklahoma City, and has also lived in New York, Washington D. C., West Palm Beach, Gainesville, and New Orleans, where he graduated from Tulane and taught gifted children at a magnet school for seven years. In the summer of 2005, he and his family moved back to New Orleans (from Gainesville) and lived there for just over two months before fleeing Hurricane Katrina, an experience he wrote about in a series of articles for Slate.
Bailey is the author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on his biography, Cheever: A Life, which won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black Memorial Prizes. Cheever was also named Best Adult Nonfiction Book of 2009 by Booklist, one of Ten Best Books by Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal, one of Ten Best Nonfiction Books by Time and Entertainment Weekly, and was a New York Times Notable Book and on many other Best of the Year lists. He also edited a two-volume edition of Cheever’s work for The Library of America, and in 2010 received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. That year, too, he was one of five nonfiction judges for the National Book Award.
Bailey’s articles and reviews have appeared in Vanity Fair, Slate, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, The Believer, Vice, Spy, Virginia Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. He’s been writer-in-residence at The College of William & Mary and Old Dominion, where he’s currently the Mina Hohenberg Darden Professor of Creative Writing. His most recent biography, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson, was published by Knopf in 2013. The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. Bailey is currently working on a biography of Philip Roth, who has agreed to grant Bailey exclusive access to papers, friends and family, and to make himself available for extensive interviews.