Phillip Lopate

When you’re writing an essay, you as the essayist are both moving forward and circling back to what you said and arguing with yourself, or at least asking yourself if this is what you really think. That’s part of the scrupulousness of this kind of writing. It’s not, is this what others think I should think? but, is this what I actually think?

Author of to Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

Editor of The Art of the Personal Essay




Mr. Lopate has given us a great gift-a totally joyous, inspirational reading experience. The Art of the Personal Essay is easily the best book I have read all year.
— Peter Carey
A major national literary figure whose whimsical prose style and analytical approach rival in quality the work of Didion, Sontag, and Vidal.
New York Newday

Phillip Lopate is widely considered a master of the essay. He is the author of  the seminal To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Press, 2013), and the editor of influential The Art of the Personal Essay (Anchor Books, 1994). Lopate is also an accomplished poet and novelist, film and literary critic, writer about and lover of New York City, and beloved professor and mentor.

He has written four personal essay collections — Bachelorhood (Little, Brown, 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Poseidon-Simon & Schuster, 1989), which Robert Atwan, editor of the Best American Essays series, noted as one of the ten best essays since 1950, claiming that Lopate “had found a creative way to insert the old familiar essay into the contemporary world," Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996) and Portrait Inside My Head (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2013). His fiction includes two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987), and a pair of novellas (Two Marriages, Other Press, 2008). His poetry collections are The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972), The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976) and At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010.)

Other books include Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975) now considered a classic of progressive education; a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically (Doubleday-Anchor, 1998); an urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan (Crown, 2004), and Notes On Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009). In addition, there is a Phillip Lopate reader, Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003).

His latest book is the memoir, A Mother’s Tale (OSU Press, 2017). He has also edited numerous anthologies including American Movie Critics and Writing New York. Speaking about New York City, where he was born and raised, Lopate notes, “I do feel rooted in New York and am unapologetically pro–New York. There are other writers who have moved around and whose identity comes from being displaced or out of place or having two homes. I see myself as a New Yorker probably before I see myself as an American.”

He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, Hofstra University,  New York University and Bennington College. He is a professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches nonfiction writing. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he currently lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.



Open and right-click to download