Barry Denenberg is the critically acclaimed author of non-fiction and historical fiction. His historical fiction includes titles in the Dear America, My Name is America, and Royal Diaries series, many of which have been named NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. His nonfiction books have covered a wide array of topics, from Anne Frank to Elvis Presley. After the publication of An American Hero: The True Story of Charles Lindburgh, Denenberg was interviewed for various documentaries including ABC’s “The Century.”
Denenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York and lived in Long Island, Binghamton, New York, and Palisades Park, New Jersey. “I was a serious reader from an early age and when I attended Boston University in 1968, majoring in history, I worked in a bookstore at night,” he says. “After college I was a book buyer for some fine, independent bookstores, some of the nation’s largest retail book chains and a marketing executive in publishing.
“At the age of forty I came to the startling realization that the glamorous world of power lunches, power politics, and power trips was not for me. I immediately went to work on the Great American Novel (since destroyed) and was rescued when my future wife, Jean Feiwel (then publisher of Scholastic Inc.) made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Scholastic had received a biography of John F. Kennedy that they deemed unacceptable: would I like to try and write one?
“The rest is history in more ways than one. I went on to write biographies of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, J. Edgar Hoover, Nelson Mandela, Elvis Presley and Voices From Vietnam, an oral history of the war.
“Writing some of the first books in the Dear America series was a turning point in my career. Its popularity and the resulting readers’ letters made a great impression on me. This in turn inspired my writing and fueled my research. With my bookstore background and the help of numerous knowledgeable booksellers I am able to assemble an extensive bibliography on each topic I write.
“I think there’s an art to both writing and research. I’m a good writer but a better researcher.”
Something that has added greatly to Denenberg’s perspective on writing for young readers is his volunteer work as Director of Creative Writing and Library Services at the Waterside School in Stamford, Connecticut. Waterside, established in 2001, is an independent school dedicated to educating gifted children of the communities’ low-income families.
Aside from writing and teaching Denenberg’s interests include listening to music, reading (books not related to his research), swimming, practicing yoga and spending time with his family.
Barry Denenberg lives in Bedford, New York with his wife and daughter.