HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Roger Rosenblatt

Award-Winning Author and Essayist


  • On the Art and Craft of Writing
  • On Writing Memoirs and Essays
  • On the Teaching of Writing
  • On His Books
  • On American Culture


Maryland, New York

Roger Rosenblatt is an esteemed author, essayist, playwright, and teacher whose work has been praised as “some of the most profound and stylish writing in America today” by William Safire of the New York Times. The New York Times Book Review has called his books “wonderful” and “exquisite”; the Washington Post declared him “candid, honest, and brilliant”; and the Los Angeles Times described his writing as “luminous.” He has been called a “national treasure” by United Press International.

Rosenblatt's pieces for Time magazine and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, a Peabody Award, and an Emmy. He is the author of six off-Broadway plays and 16 books, including the national bestsellers Rules for Aging and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is widely known as a witty and thoughtful speaker for schools and universities, libraries, literary festivals, writing seminars and conferences, and cultural organizations.

Rosenblatt’s first novel, Lapham Rising (Ecco), also a national bestseller, first put him on the literary map with its satirical and comic portrayal of life in the Hamptons, where some of Long Island’s wealthiest residents put their money on display. In 2008, he followed that up with Beet (Ecco), another cultural satire shedding light and poking fun at the typical American college campus with a hysterical cast of characters, from the foul-mouth debutante ringleader of the student protest group, to a heroic English professor, and a financially unsound board of trustees.

Making Toast (Ecco), a New York Times bestseller, is Rosenblatt’s book-length version of his December 2008 essay in the The New Yorker that heartbreakingly details the sudden death of his daughter. Kayak Morning (Ecco), also a New York Times bestseller, is his more personal meditation on his grief. His newest book, The Boy Detective (Ecco), is an evocative memoir of his Manhattan childhood. Through a beautifully wrought series of vignettes that map both his inner and outer landscapes, Rosenblatt evokes with rare precision a disappeared New York, the people who inhabited it, and the larger world of which it was a part, in a moving meditation on what endures, despite time’s inexorable forward movement.

In Rosenblatt’s latest book, Thomas Murphy (Ecco), the acclaimed, award-winning essayist and memoirist returns to fiction with this reflective, bittersweet tale that introduces the irrepressible aging poet Thomas Murphy—the paean to the mystery, tragedy and wonder of life. Through Murph’s wry, lyrical prose, we learn about his childhood on Inishmaan, an island off of Ireland, and his life since leaving Inishmaan in his twenties. We come to know his daughter, his grandson, his late wife, and his first love. Murph’s mind jumps from fact to memory to fancy. Though Murph’s mind is deteriorating, we see in him both the man he used to be and the man he is in his most lucid moments-and this lucidity, this awareness, makes this novel all the more heartbreaking.

Rosenblatt began his professional writing career in his mid-30s when he became the Literary Editor and columnist for The New Republic. Before that, he taught at Harvard University where he earned his Ph.D., held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing, and was the Allston-Burr Senior Tutor and Master of Dunster House. At age 29, he was the youngest House Master in Harvard’s history. He was a Fulbright scholar in Ireland from 1965 to 1966 and was the Edward R. Murrow visiting professor at Harvard in 2005. His 2011 book, Unless it Moves the Human Heart (Ecco), on the value and necessity of writing, is full of Rosenblatt’s own practical insights and advice from his years of experience. In 2010, he was selected for the Robert Cherry Award as one of the three most effective and distinguished professors in the country. In 2008, he was appointed the Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University, where he currently teaches. Rosenblatt and his wife divide their time between New York and Maryland.

Praise for The Boy Detective:

"To enter the world of this wonderful memoir is to leave the dull certainties of home and go wandering.  The author's destination is always the great wide world Out There, and through his sharp, compact prose, Roger Rosenblatt takes the reader with him... In this extended essay, at once a memoir and a meditation on the literary form itself, Rosenblatt writes the way a great jazz musician plays, moving from one emotion to another, playing some with a dose of irony, others with joy, and a few with pain and melancholy (the blues, of course)."
-- Pete Hamill, the New York Times Book Review

"The book is rich with recollections and with the lush wanderings of memory and imagination. In combination they draw the reader into one of the most entertaining, thoughtful and deeply moving minds among nonfiction writers today."
-- Washington Post

"The Boy Detective is filled with curves and knuckleballs and the occasional spitter. Hey, pal, have fun catching."
-- USA Today

"Roger Rosenblatt may have just invented a beguiling subgenre — call it mem-noir — in which remembrance loops along a dark trail of switchbacks and time-jumps like a memoir narrated by an erudite, shape-shifting shamus."
-- The East Hampton Star

"Beautiful sentences spill out such as, 'Everyone dwells in one past or another, and to a greater or lesser extent, is ruled by it.' A hallmark of memoir is the self now reflecting on the self then. This book pulls off the high wire feat of illuminating that double identity and giving readers the mental atmospheres of both narrators, the rascal back then and the reflective adult today...deliciously satisfying."
-- New York Journal of Books

Praise for Kayak Morning:

“If Making Toast was an act of ingathering, this book is an act of de-accessioning, a send-off on a funeral boat out to sea, a valediction. It reaches out, but it resolves nothing, and that, exquisitely made, is its point."
-- New York Times Book Review

“Candid, honest, brilliant…Rosenblatt’s meditations in Kayak Morning show us that it is possible in this way – and perhaps only in this way – to bring oneself through an all consuming grief, and to discover beyond it the imperishable constant that is love.”
-- Washington Post

Praise for Making Toast:

“Beautiful and moving.”
-- New York Times

“[A] piercing account of broken hearts [that] records how love, hurt, and responsibility can, through antic wit and tenderness, turn a shattered household into a luminous new-made family.”
-- Cynthia Ozick

“A painfully beautiful memoir telling how grandparents are made over into parents, how people die out of order, how time goes backwards. Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.”
-- E. L. Doctorow, author of Homer & Langley

“[Making Toast] is about coping with grief, caring for children and creating an ad hoc family for as long as this particular configuration is required, but mostly it’s a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing and how to be a class act.”
-- Carolyn See, The Washington Post

“Prose that is as restrained as it is evocative… sad, funny, brave and luminous… the author reminds us in this rare and generous book that there is no remedy for death. The way to live, he concludes, is ‘to value the passing time’; the best we can do is to pay attention and to love each other well.”
-- Los Angeles Times

Praise for Unless it Moves the Human Heart:

“Roger Rosenblatt is the teacher you always wished you had. Teaching “is inevitably an extension of personality,’’ and it is a happy circumstance that Rosenblatt’s personality is generous, kind, and compassionate…Adept and inventive, Rosenblatt encourages his students to write with moderation but think with grandiosity…Having skillfully addressed matters of style, he ends by eloquently approaching the spirit.”
-- Boston Globe

Unless It Moves the Human Heart is right up there with Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, although less Zen, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, although less confessional. It takes the form of a memoir that recreates classes in which Rosenblatt and his students tried to answer the question, Why write?... The book is filled with humor and practical advice…”
-- Washington Post

“They sit at the seminar table… pens poised, on the chance that I might say something interesting.”  Modest words, since Rosenblatt is an award-winning author.  In this slender volume he reveals the characters and conversations that emerged during one semester of his “Writing Everything” class.  There is much to love and ponder within these passionate pages.”
-- People

“The wry humor and banter between the students, who range in age from 20- 70-something, and their teacher, who occasionally makes a point by bopping someone on the head, is a pleasure to take in.  And Rosenblatt’s easy wit makes for fun reading.  But there’s terrific advice and analysis going on as well, from the critiques of students’ work (real samples of which are included) to discussion of some classic literature and exercises that promote leaner, sharper prose… Writers, or those who have always dreamed of writing, will take much away from this lovely book.”
-- Book Page

Praise for Thomas Murphy:

“Murph’s rambling monologue reveals discernment and feeling, as a favorite George Eliot quote puts it, especially in riffs on poetry, regret, cooking, and the upside of forgetting.... Murph proves a memorable hero as he faces his last years as though he won’t crash if he goes full tilt.”
--Publishers Weekly