- Editors’ Note
This issue marks several major transitions in the life of this journal, and the Center that publishes it. Changes on the journal’s masthead were noted in last summer’s issue, when Miriam Fuchs ended her tenure as a coeditor of Biography, replaced by John Zuern. With this issue, we acknowledge changes within the Biographical Research Center, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Center for Biographical Research.
On Saturday, August 24, at the semi-annual meeting of the BRC, we said farewell, but not goodbye, to three outgoing board members, and welcomed four new ones. It’s fair to say however that this meeting marked the biggest transition in the history of the BRC, because the three departing board members were George and Marguerite Simson, who founded the BRC in 1976, and Glenn Paige, who was voted onto the board in 1984. Their combined tenure represents 103 years of service.
Over the years, Marguerite has provided sage legal counsel, and a bracing common sense that on numerous occasions has kept us out of trouble. Glenn Paige has been both a canny strategist in terms of long-range planning, and a voice of conscience—always bringing his perspective as an advocate for peace and for non-killing to our discussions. After all, what could ultimately be more important to life writing studies than non-killing?
And George Simson was of course the founding editor of Biography, the first President of the Biographical Research Center, and the first director of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Center for Biographical Research. His departure from the BRC is therefore the last step in his thankfully slow departure from administrative responsibilities: he resigned as Editor of the journal in 1994, and as Director of the CBR in 1997.
The Editors’ Note to the 1999 special issue of Biography in honor of George explained that this festschrift was “neither elegy nor eulogy. George is still passionately among us, arguing the good argument, fighting the good fight, pushing the good cause. He has promised himself a thousand projects and he will deliver on the neediest.” We’re happy to say that fourteen years later, these words still ring true.
We say thanks to our departing board members, and welcome Drs. Ruth Dawson, Mark Panek, Dawn Morais Webster, and Maya Soetoro-Ng to the BRC, who join continuing board members Craig Howes, Miriam Fuchs, Stanley Schab, and Jim Marsh. [End Page iii]
And one BRC member who would have continued to serve has also left us. With great sadness, we note the passing of Michael Fassiotto. For more than thirty years, Mike was a key contributor to all aspects of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly and the work of the Biographical Research Center. Early in the journal’s history, he served as Copy Editor in 1980, then as Managing Editor from 1981 to 1986. A prolific contributor to Reviewed Elsewhere, his abstracts from The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review appeared in this feature from its inception in 1987; his last contributions appear in this issue. Mike also published reviews and evaluated manuscripts for Biography, and since 2000, he served as a Director and Treasurer on the BRC.
Mike was a lecturer in the English department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in the 1970s and early 1980s. A member of our first doctoral class, in 1992 he was also the first person to receive a PhD, for his dissertation “Finding Victorias / Reading Biographies,” an ambitious and thorough overview of the constructions of Queen Victoria created in the scores of biographies published after her death. So thanks to Mike, the first English PhD granted by our university was for a life writing dissertation.
Mike was a generous, witty, and astute friend and colleague. A remarkable chef, he was also a great storyteller, and possessed a keen, and sometimes wicked sense of humor, often accompanied by a barrel-chested laugh. He often suffered fools gladly, because of the delight he took in sharing their absurdities later with friends. Above all, he was a...