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Remembering Gail Sheehy – Author & Journalist

Remembering Gail Sheehy – Author & Journalist

“Gail Sheehy, a journalist who plumbed the interior lives of public figures for clues to their behavior and examined societal trends as signposts of cultural change, died on Monday [8/24/2020] at a hospital in Southampton, N.Y. She was 83.”    —

We recorded the video interview below in 2015 at the Miami Book Fair, and published it the same year.



Introduction to Gail Sheehy.  1:24 minutes.  Interview:  Raymond Elman.  Videography:  Manuel Perez-Trujillo.  Recorded:  11/18/2015, Miami Book Fair.



GAIL SHEEHY (1937-2020) was an iconic author, journalist, and lecturer. Sheehy is the author of seventeen books, including Passages (1976), named by the Library of Congress as one of the ten most influential books of our times. She has written biographies and character studies of major twentieth-century leaders, including Hillary Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Her most recent book, Daring: My Passages, is a page-turner memoir that chronicles her evolution as a writer, her eye-witness to many of the most important movements and events of the past 60 years, and her longtime relationship with and marriage to the dynamic Clay Felker, founder of New York magazine and developer of extraordinary writing talent.

As a journalist, Sheehy is best known for articles published in New York magazine and Vanity Fair. She played a part in the movement Tom Wolfe called the “New Journalism,” in which some journalists and essayists experimented with adopting a variety of literary techniques such as scene setting, dialogue, status details to denote social class, and getting inside the story and sometimes reporting the thoughts of a central character.

We had a chance to record a conversation with Gail at the Miami Book Fair in November, 2015. The videos below are organized by topic and run between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. Tap on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.


SERENDIPITY:   1:45 min.

What is your earliest awareness of wanting to be a writer?


LEARNING TO ACT: 1:27 min.

What did you learn in college that was most beneficial to your career?



You studied with and were mentored by Margaret Mead at Columbia University. What was her impact on you?


DEVELOP A VOICE:   41 sec.

What was your first New Journalism assignment from Clay Felker?



What were your early days at New York magazine like?



You have a great talent for metaphor. Can you describe the evolution of that talent?


SELF-CONFIDENCE:   1:23 min.

What was it like to be thrust into Clay Felker’s social circles as a young woman?