HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

John Sedgwick

Novelist, Memoirist, Journalist


  • Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family
  • Climbing the Family Tree - Understanding Oneself Through Family History
  • Living With Bipolar Disorder and Reaping Its Creative Fruits
  • How to Write About Anything: Fiction, Memoir, Magazine Reporting
  • Writing As Life: Inspiration, Technique, and Making a Living



John Sedgwick is the author of six books, including the acclaimed family memoir, In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family, which traces a genetic line of manic-depression through more than two centuries of his ancestors to himself. Diagnosed as bipolar in midlife, Sedgwick examines the emotional undertow of the illness in an illustrious lineage that includes the protean Speaker of the House Theodore Sedgwick, longtime Atlantic Monthly editor Ellery Sedgwick, the Sixties ‘It’ girl, Edie Sedgwick, and Golden-Globe winner Kyra Sedgwick. In addition to discussing his family’s history and struggle with manic-depression, he can talk about how he coped with bipolar disorder and learned to tap its creative properties.

A novelist as well as a non-fiction writer, he is also the author of nearly 500 magazine stories, many of them for Newsweek, GQ, and the Atlantic Monthly. Sedgwick’s article in Worth magazine on the nation’s premier philanthropies was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. His work has been widely anthologized. In 1989, his non-fiction book The Peaceable Kingdom: A Year in the Life of America’s Oldest Zoo, was the basis for the dramatic series, Peaceable Kingdom, that aired on CBS television.

The father of two daughters, Sedgwick lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a trustee of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and a former chairman of the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

Praise for In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire:

“[John] Sedgwick, an acclaimed novelist, has written a gorgeous memoir, a fascinating, impressively researched account of a family whose members include Theodore Sedgwick, a colleague of George Washington; Theodore’s daughter novelist Catharine Maria; and Ellery, owner and editor of the Atlantic Monthly. But it’s John Sedgwick’s struggles with his own health and identity that give this book its literary power.” 

-- USA Today

“It’s clear from the articulate, insightful In My Blood that [John Sedgwick’s] literary credentials are at least as interesting as his genetic ones, and that he can take on any subject he chooses. . . . A clear, incisive view of a complicated family.”

--  New York Times

 “The Sedgwick story engages us with the powers and insights of a great novel. . . . It is the story of America. . . . A gift. . . . A modern diary of richly complex people whose stories, and blood, now live within a genuine man of letters.”               

-- Boston Globe

“An engrossing, affecting and enlightening inquiry, unique in its perspective on American history and trenchant in its insights into the many facets of inheritance.” 

-- Chicago Tribune