My newest book a biography called "The Running Away Account: Jessica Mitford in America” was published by Counterpoint Press in 2010.
Over the course of her long and adventurous life, Jessica Mitford was an investigative journalist, civil rights activist, vivid raconteur and champion of outsiders and underdogs. You find that her admirers and detractors use the same words to describe her: muckraker, subversive, mischief-maker, tease, and nuisance. In a series of literary exposes like "The American Way of Death, The Trial of Dr. Spock" (about conspiracy laws during the Vietnam era) and "Kind and Usual Punishment" (about the necessity of prison reform) Mitford fearlessly defied authority figures. It was a habit she’d cultivated reaching back to the Thirties, when as the daughter of English aristocrats she’d repudiated wealth and privilege to run away to the Spanish Civil War with Winston Churchill’s nephew, Esmond Romilly. The inscription on the Mitford family coat of arms was “God Careth for Us,” but embarrass the powerful, mock the hypocrite and shift the complacent were always mottos more to Decca’s taste.
I’ve published two books. Red Star Sister was published in 1998. It is a memoir. A Motel of the Mind is a collection of lyric essays (some written by me and some by Gary Amdahl). It was published in 2001.
My memoir Red Star Sister was awarded the 1999 PEN Center USA West prize for Creative Nonfiction. I’ve been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for short fiction, a McKnight Award in Screenwriting, and two Jerome Fellowships in Playwrighting. I’ve worked as a playwright-in-residence at various theatres, also as a librettist for operas associated with both the Minnesota Opera and the Philadelphia Opera. I was a contributing editor to the literary journal and book review The Hungry Mind Review for eight years and I was the on-staff monthly book columnist for Elle magazine (1998-99). I have also received a Dayton Hudson Grant for literary criticism. I was also a Sundance Fellow in Arts Journalism. I’ve held International Writing Fellowships at the Camargo Foundation, in France and at Hawthornden in Scotland. In the U.S. I’ve been in residence as a writing Fellow at the McDowell Colony, Centrum, Yaddo, Ragdale and the Virginia Center for the Arts.
SELECTED PRODUCED PLAYS
- Quiet, Wyatt: Staged reading in LA, Playwrights Theatre 2007
- Harriet the Spy: (Adaptation of Louise Fitzhugh’s novel), summer 1999, Seattle Children’s Theater School
- Harriet the Spy: (Adaptation) Children’s Theatre Co. (1988)
- Emma Rothstien: New Classic Theatre (1986), Tracey Robert's Studio, First Street Playhouse (1987), One Act Theatre Co. (1979)
- Baby Love: Theatre Three (1986)
- Quiet, Wyatt: North American History Theatre (1987)
- History of Rapture: Red Eye Collaboration, intersection
- Water Flowing Under: Bay Area Playwrights Festival (1981), Playwrights Center, Mpls., MN (1984)
- Questionnaire: One Act Theatre Company, San Francisco, (1978) Reviews Upon Request
- Hawks and Doves, commissioned by the New Music Theatre Ensemble. Composer: Leslie Ball. Currently in process
- Invited to participate in the Composer/Librettist Studio, Opera for the Eighties And Beyond (1995)
- The Black Rose of the Forest Perilous, in collaboration with Composer David John Olson
- Lilith by the Sea, with Miriam Gerberg, Commissioned by The MN.Opera's New Music Theatre Ensemble (1988)
- Emma Rothstein for KPFA Berkeley
- History of Rapture - National Public Radio
Courses Taught at Redlands
I teach introductory, intermediate and advanced workshops in the Creative Writing Department. I also teach seminars on a variety of topics. Some of these include: documentary film, monologue writing for the stage, literary journalism and nontraditional biography.
- University of Connecticut M.A. Ph.D. 1998
- San Francisco State University, B.A.
Previous Teaching Experience
University of Connecticut
Previous Relevant Work Experience
- Immediately after High school became an underground press reporter— traveled around Europe and lived in London, sampling various hippie occupations
- Returned to California
- Worked as a librarian in the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science
- Became involved with The One-Act Theatre Company of San Francisco as a Resident Playwright
- Moved to Minneapolis to continue work in theatre on a fellowship at the Playwrights Center
- Worked at the Hungary Mind Bookstore, as the store publicist
- Joined The Hungary Mind Review as columnist and contributing editor—writing many reviews
- Wrote reviews for various national publicationswhile plays and opera librettos produced around the country
- Moved to CT to begin grad school and became Staff Book Reviewer for Elle magazine
Awards and Honors
- "Red Star Sister" was awarded the "1999 PEN Center USA West prize for Creative Nonfiction"
- "National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship" for short fiction
- "McKnight Award in Screenwriting"
- "Two Jerome Fellowships in Playwrighting"
- "Dayton Hudson Grant for literary criticism"
- "Sundance Fellow in Arts Journalism"
- "International Writing Fellowships: Camargo Foundation, in France and at Hawthornden in Scotland"
- "Writer in residence or fellow at McDowell Colony, Centrum, Yaddo, Ragdale and the Virginia Center for the Arts"
Publications, Presentations and Panels
- Octagon Theatre, University of Bolton, England, 2007
- Camargo Foundation, 2005
- Speakout Reading, April 2003
- Collegial Conversation, October 2002
- Book Reception with Ralph Angel and Pat Geary, May 2002
- Los Angeles Times Book Fair, “Inside Out: The Art of the Memoir,” April 2002
- Selected panelist at Board of Trustees Retreat, November 2001, "Art of the Aftermath of 9/11"
- Caltech reading and discussion of "Red Star Sister," November 2001
- Panelist and Moderator, Campus Conversation, October 2001
- Associated Writing Program Conference Panelist, Film and the Literary Arts, April 2001
- Reading, University of California, Riverside, Writer’s Week, February 2001
- Sundance Writer’s Reading, Park City, Utah, January 2001
- Reading, Northlight Books, December 1998
- Reading, Frugal Frigate, Redlands, March 1999
- Reading, Cornelia Street Café, New York City, April 1999
- Reading, University of Connecticut—invited by English dept.
- National Public Radio, All Things Considered. Sept 1998
- Blue Moon Bookstore, San Diego, Sept. 1998
- Midnight Special Bookstore, Los Angeles, Sept. 1998
- Much Ado about Books, Redlands, September 1998
- Diesel Books, Oakland, December 1998
- Book Passage, Marin, December 1998
Leslie Brody is a long-time member of the Johnston Center faculty Advisory Committee.