Georgetown has always been known for its writers and — once upon a time — for its many bookstores.
Here is a partial list of once and present Georgetown authors, as provided by biographer Kitty Kelley: Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, Sinclair Lewis, Larry McMurtry, Roald Dahl, Herman Wouk, Ward Just, William Peter Blatty, Katherine Anne Porter, George Will (well, at least he keeps his office in Georgetown, where he does most of his writing), Drew Pearson, Joseph Alsop, Herblock, Allen Dulles.
“I realize most are long departed, but they are all part of the history — the literate history — of Georgetown,” said Kelley, who is also part of that pantheon. The subjects of Kelley’s sharp-penned biographies include Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the Bush and the British royal families and Oprah Winfrey.
Pulling back from her sensational bios, Kelley has written “Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys” and “Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington.” There is also a children book on Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. (Starting next month, Kelley’s stories will be on Reelz. “The Kitty Kelley Files” premieres July 29 with Drew Barrymore.)
Bob Woodward of Washington Post and Watergate fame is a prolific author, whose books, some with co-authors like Carl Bernstein, range from “All the President’s Men” and “The Final Days” to “Bush at War” and “Obama’s Wars” — and, most recently, “The Last of the President’s Men.” He lives on Q Street with his wife, former journalist Elsa Walsh, who penned “Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women.”
Walter Isaacson, who just sold his house on 28th Street and will move to New Orleans to teach history at Tulane University, has written biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger and Steve Jobs. Soon to step down as president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Isaacson has also been Time’s managing editor and CNN’s chairman and CEO. His newest bio, coming out in October, is on Leonardo da Vinci.
Sally Quinn, widow of newspaper editor Ben Bradlee, has written “The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining” and “We’re Going to Make You a Star.” September will see the release of her “In Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir.”
In November, HBO will air a documentary on Bradlee, and in December, the Steven Spielberg film, “The Papers,” will be released, with Tom Hanks as Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham. (Both Bradlee and Graham wrote noteworthy autobiographies: “A Good Life” and “Personal History,” respectively.)
For JFK’s centennial, Tom Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie co-authored “The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign.” With John Sexton, Oliphant wrote the remarkable “Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game.” He lives with his wife, CBS News correspondent Susan Spencer, on the east side of town.
Maureen Dowd, who lives in a house where JFK once resided, is author of “The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics” as well as “Bushworld” and the less serious but equally outspoken “Are Men Necessary?”
Mary Louise Kelly, a Georgetown University professor who teaches journalism and national security classes, has two thrillers, “Anonymous Sources” and “The Bullet.”
Often dispensing parenting advice on the radio or in her blog, Leslie Morgan Steiner is the author of “Crazy Love” and “Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families.”
Jane Stanton Hitchcock is the author of “Mortal Friends,” “The Witches’ Hammer,” “Social Crimes” and “Trick of the Eye,” as well as several plays. She lives with her husband, columnist Jim Hoagland, on Q Street in a house where Sinclair Lewis once lived.
China expert Michael Pillsbury’s “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower,” published in 2015, is an important book, called one of the top 10 of the year by the Christian Science Monitor.
Deborah Tannen, linguistics professor at Georgetown University, is most famous for “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.” This year, she published “You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships.”
Of course, there are many more authors around town, including those who contribute to The Georgetowner, such as John Girouard (“The Ten Truths of Wealth Creation”), Brent Glass (“50 Great American Places”) and Peggy Sands, who writes under her full name, Margaret Orchowski (“The Law That Changed the Face of America”).