Deborah Blum to receive Chancellor's Regional Literary Award

August 26, 2014

BlumA Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and university professor will receive the 2014 UW-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award.

Deborah Blum will be honored for two books she authored: "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York" and "Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection."

"Deborah Blum is a writer who not only engages readers, but also educates them on topics that continue to impact our lives today," said Chancellor Richard Telfer. "Anyone who has read her work knows that Ms. Blum has the skill to weave an interesting story, and the research that goes into her work is extraordinary.

"I am honored to have her come to our campus and share her skills and her insights with us."

Blum will hold a reading and book signing from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in Summers Auditorium in the James R. Connor University Center. The event is open to public.

Blum said she thinks of herself as a Wisconsin nonfiction writer.

"Writing books that are recognized this way, in the state of Wisconsin, is an amazing honor to me," she said.

Blum's New York Times best-selling "Poisoner's Handbook" details Jazz Age poisoning cases in New York as it charts the development of forensic toxicology. "Love at Goon Park" explores the research of Harry Harlow, who used primate experiments to reveal insights into human affection.

Blum was a science writer at The Sacramento Bee when she won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on primate research. She later authored a book, "The Monkey Wars," based on her reporting. She writes for publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Scientific American and Psychology Today.

Blum joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty in 1997.

She has simple and important advice for new writers.

"Write," she said. "Start right now. Being a writer today, in this digital age, is really exciting. There are so many platforms where you can start looking for homes for your work and drawing attention to your work."

Blum's second piece of advice: Read.

"We all become better writers when we read good writing and can hear the music of language, and can read and appreciate and listen and can learn from the way that gifted writers turn words into poetry," she said. "The more you do that, the better you get."

Blum received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1976 and master's degree in science journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 1982.

She lives in Madison.

-- Written by Ben Jones


Sara Kuhl

Jeff Angileri

About the award

The Chancellor's Regional Literary Award honors a living author who has demonstrated a connection to the Upper Midwest in his or her published works of prose, poetry, nonfiction or drama.

Previous winners:

2006 - C.J. Hribal for "The Company Car"

2007 - A. Manette Ansay for "Vinegar Hill," "Limbo" and "Blue Water"

2008 - Michael Perry for "Population 485" and "Truck: A Love Story"

Jane Hamilton for "A Map of the World" and "The Book of Ruth"

2009 - David Rhodes for "Driftless"

2010 - Agate Nesaule for "A Woman in Amber" and "In Love with Jerzy Kosinski"

2011 - Robert Goolrick for "A Reliable Wife"

2012 - John Hildebrand for "Mapping the Farm: The Chronicles of a Family" and "Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon"

2013 - Alison Townsend for "The Blue Dress" and "Persephone in America"

Chancellor's Literary Award website >>