Bio

Maud Newton is a writer, critic, and occasional speaker. Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation (Random House), her first book, has been called “a literary feat” by the New York Times Book Review and a “brilliant mix of personal memoir and cultural observation” by the Boston Globe, praised by Oprah Daily, NPR, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vulture, the Los Angeles Times, Wired, and many others, and named one of Esquire’s best books of 2022. Excerpts from the book have appeared in Esquire, Time, and the Wall Street Journal.

Her essay on “America’s Ancestry Craze,” a seed of the book, was a Harper’s cover story. Both the book and the essay are outgrowths of old weekend ancestry posts on her blog.

Newton also writes personal essays, cultural criticism, and fiction. Beyond Harper’s, her work has appeared in the New York Times MagazineEsquire, NarrativeHarper’s Bazaar, the  New York Times Book Review, GrantaBookforum, the Oxford American, Time, the Wall Street Journal, Humanities, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Curbed, the Paris Review Daily, the New Republic, the Awl, and many other publications and anthologies, including Best American Travel Writing 2015 and the New York Times bestseller What My Mother Gave Me.

She has discussed ancestors and family history with NPR’s All Things Considered, the New York Times Book Review podcast, American Ancestors (New England Historic Genealogical Society)WNYC, the Dallas Morning NewsKERA’s ThinkSlate/Future TenseWisconsin Public Radio, and PEN. She has appeared on BookTVTalk of the Nation, Radio Open Source, the Poured Over podcast, the Maris Review podcast, and Ethan Nichtern’s The Road Home podcast, among others. Among other lectures and visiting writer conversations, she participated in “Ancestor Trouble: A Religious and Political Dialogue” with Rabbi Tamar Manasseh for UC Davis Jewish Studies/Religious Studies, discussed the future of the book with Sven Birkerts for the Pittsburgh Contemporary Authors Series, delivered a lecture on literary blogging at Butler University, and has twice been a featured author at the Oxford Conference for the Book.

Newton received the Narrative Prize for “When the Flock Changed,” a work of fiction. Her personal essay, “Conversations You Have at Twenty,” was anthologized in Love is a Four-Letter Word. She was awarded City College’s Irwin and Alice Stark Short Fiction Prize for “Regarding the Insurance Defense Attorney.” Her fiction and essays have been praised by KirkusPublisher’s Weekly, the New Yorker online, Elle, the New York Times, the Paris Review online, and others. She has been a Yaddo fellow.

Newton was born in Dallas, grew up in Miami, and graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English and law. Eventually she moved to Brooklyn, and for the past six years she’s lived on Lenape land in Queens. She started blogging in May 2002 with the aim of finding others who were passionate about books, culture, and politics, and to establish an informal place to write about her life and family. Within a few years, her site had been praised, criticized, and quoted in the New York Times Book ReviewForbesNew York Magazine, the Washington Post, the UK Times, Entertainment WeeklyUSA Today, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily NewsPoets & Writers Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New YorkerBook Magazine, the Evening Standard, the ScotsmanSlate, the Denver Post, and Canada’s National Post.

Newton has blogged less frequently in recent years but sends her Ancestor Trouble newsletter every month (or so). You can also follow her on TwitterInstagram, and Medium. She maintains a Facebook page. All opinions shared on this site, and in those venues, are her own.

Her agent is Julie Barer of The Book Group. Maud is a nickname. Newton’s pronouns are she/her. She lives on Lenape land in Queens, New York.


Newsletter

You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.