James Atlas, author and editor of biographies, dies at 70

September 05, 2019 - 4:07 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — James Atlas, an acclaimed author and editor of biographies, has died.

Fellow biographer Anne C. Heller says that Atlas had been ill and died Wednesday at age 70. Additional details were not immediately available.

Atlas established himself in his late 20s with a biography of the poet Delmore Schwartz. He later oversaw the highly regarded "Penguin Lives" series, for which prominent authors wrote brief works about historical figures. Pairings included Edna O'Brien on James Joyce and Sherwin Nuland on Leonardo Da Vinci.

Atlas also wrote the memoir "My Life in the Middle Ages" and a biography of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, criticized by some for being overly harsh. The book strained his relationship with a mutual friend, Philip Roth, about whom Atlas released an audiobook in February.

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