Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Immigrant of the Day: Edmund Morris (Kenya)

Dutch Edmund Morris (born May 27, 1940 in Nairobi, Kenya) is a writer best known for his biographies of United States presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. After receiving his early education in Kenya, Morris attended Rhodes University in South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before immigrating to the United States in 1968.

Morris's biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1980.

After spending 14 years as President Reagan's authorized biographer, he published the national bestseller Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan in 1999.  This book generated controversy because, although Morris had access to Reagan's papers and correspondence, including his private diary, and he had been chosen as Reagan's official biographer, Morris wrote the book in a fiction-like fashion with a fictional version of himself as the narrator.  Morris chose this course because, he admitted on 60 Minutes, he was never able to bring the president into focus. "He was truly one of the strangest men who’s ever lived," Morris said. "Nobody around him understood him. I, every person I interviewed, almost without exception, eventually would say, 'You know, I could never really figure him out.'"

Morris's other books include Theodore Rex (2001), the second in a projected three-volume chronicle of the life of Theodore Roosevelt, and Beethoven: The Universal Composer (2005).

Morris has also written extensively for The New Yorker, New York Times, and Harper's Magazine.

Edmund Morris lives in New York City and Kent, Connecticut with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.


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