Paul Hendrickson has published seven books, the most recent of which came out in October 2019 and is entitled Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright. He is the author of the 2011 New York Times best seller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost. His 2003 nonfiction work, Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in general nonfiction. His 1996 The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War was a finalist for the National Book Award. He is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Provost’s teaching award in 2005, Hendrickson worked for thirty years in daily journalism. He was a staff feature writer at the Washington Post from 1977 to 2001. Eventually, he came to understand the truth of the old saying that the legs are the first to go, and that the honorable and difficult business of writing perishable pieces on deadline belonged to younger people. He needed to try to find a place--a home--where he could continue to work on books and the occasional magazine article and to be involved with gifted, creative people. So now, luck beyond dream, fortune beyond hope, he finds himself conducting writing workshops full time at Penn in advanced nonfiction
The late-coming professor was born in California but grew up in the Midwest and in a Catholic seminary in the Deep South, where he studied for seven years for the missionary priesthood. This became the subject of his first book, published in 1983: Seminary: A Search. He is also the author of Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott , a finalist for the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award.
In 2009, Hendrickson was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Hendrickson has degrees in English from St. Louis University and Pennsylvania State University. He is married and has two grown sons (both working in media) and lives with his wife, Cecilia, outside Philadelphia.