Christopher Bigsby is emeritus professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) where he taught from 1969 to 2018. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, is an award winning academic, novelist and biographer. Together with Malcolm Bradbury, he has written plays for BBC radio and television. His first novel, Hester, won the McKitterick Prize. Beautiful Dreamer (2002) was an American Library Association Notable Book. With Don Wilmeth, he won the Bernard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History and the George Freedley Jury Award for The Cambridge History of the American Theatre. He has also received the 'NAFSA Education Abroad Leadership Award'. His biography of Arthur Miller was shortlisted for the James Taite Black Memorial Prize, the Sheridan Morley Prize and the George Freedley Memorial Award. It was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 and was joint winner of the American Studies network Award. His is also winner of the Betty Jean Jones Award for Outstanding Teacher of American Theatre and Drama.
As a broadcaster, he presented Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope for over eight years, as well as Radio 3’s Third Ear and Radio 4’s Off the Page. He was also presenter of Radio 3’s First Night and Radio 4’s Present Voices, Past Words and The Index as well as presenting editions of The Archive Hour and Centurions. He has made television programmes on John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. He has reviewed for a number of national newspapers (including The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph) and his programme notes have appeared in theatres throughout the UK, in Australia, Canada and the United States. For 18 years he was Director of the British Council’s flagship Cambridge Seminar and has travelled widely on its behalf. He holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Bolton University and was the 2019 winner of the Exceptional Contribution Award presented by the East Anglian Book Awards.
He has published some fifty books, including a two-volume biography of Arthur Miller and his latest novel, Ishmael.
When, in Moby Dick, Ahab disappeared, tied to his nemesis, only one man survived to tell the tale, Ishmael. The story, it appeared, had ended. But stories never really end. What happened thereafter to Ishmael, condemned, for a while, to repeat his account as if there were a lesson to be learned, by him or those to whom he repeated a tale which had a mystery at its heart? Was the white whale more than a simple fact of nature and what drove a man to pursue it as though there were a sudden insight to be unveiled? Here is a sequel to that story as Ishmael seeks to purge his memories, trying his hand at pioneering before caught up in a bloody Civil War, once more facing death, before returning to the sea and the whaling on which he believed he had turned his back. And what of Ahab and a certain white whale? There are rumours that both still sail the deep ocean, locked in that same embrace which brought about the death of all on the Pequod. After all, sometimes rumours may have the shadow of truth about them, repetition being a fundamental law of existence.
Capturing the cultural shifts of twenty-first century America, Staging America explores the lives of eight award-winning playwrights -- Ayad Akhtar, David Auburn, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Quiara Allegría Hudes, Young Jean Lee, Bruce Norris, J.T. Rogers and Christopher Shinn—whose backgrounds reflect the social, religious, sexual and national diversity of America. Each chapter is devoted to a single playwright and provides an overview of his or her career, a description and critical evaluation of their work and of its reception. It is a book which enters into a conversation with plays which are as various as the individuals who created them and the society with which they engage.