Published March 18, 2022

Hilary Holladay (The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography) and Andrew Kaufman, (The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky) investigate the true lives of writers navigating the balance between a fierce commitment to their craft and the pulls of life outside of it. These are stories of complex relationships, transformation, innovation, and triumph. In conversation with Patricia Miller.

Watch the video from this event:

“Eight years after Rich’s death, at 82, comes Hilary Holladay’s The Power of Adrienne Rich, which allows us to meet this prickly poet fresh and entire. It’s the first proper biography of her, and there’s a lot to unpack. This is a good story well-told.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“The woman that emerges in Holladay’s biography is singular: not just brilliant but hard-minded and unsparing. She was a skilled, prolific writer, eager to experiment and brave enough to break with the poetic style that first earned her acclaim. As a political thinker, she was always one step ahead: concerned early on with the whiteness of women’s liberation, sex-positive at the height of the anti-pornography movement, anti-capitalist before that was in vogue. Watching American feminism unfold, she stood by with the next, necessary critique, often implicating herself in the process.” —The New Yorker

“Fascinating [and] colorful . . . Kaufman successfully corrects biographical accounts that have ‘erased’ Snitkina’s flair. Highly readable, this page-turning narrative will appeal to Dostoyevsky fans and literature-lovers in general.” —Publishers Weekly

“The story of an intriguing, impressive woman who has too long been treated as a footnote in her husband’s story. . . . Feminism, history, literature, politics—this tale has all of that, and a heroine worthy of her own turn in the spotlight.” —Therese Anne Fowler, bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald


Virginia Festival of the Book staff, volunteers, partners, and attendees appreciate all of our sponsors. It is their crucial support, along with individual donors, that allows us to present the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book almost completely free of charge. We appreciate the generous commitment from our Premier Sponsor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and these major sponsors: Michelle and David Baldacci, Dominion Energy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Community Partner

We appreciate the support of our community partner for helping share information about this event: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UVA 

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