Kenneth Silverman

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Kenneth Eugene Silverman (February 5, 1936 – July 7, 2017) was an American biographer and educator. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Bancroft Prize for his 1984 biography of Cotton Mather, The Life and Times of Cotton Mather.[1] Silverman, who specialized in Colonial American literature, was a professor of English at New York University until his retirement in 2001.


Silverman was born February 5, 1936 in Manhattan.[2] He was educated at Stuyvesant High School and Columbia University, where he received B.A. (1956), M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1964) degrees in English.

Silverman was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes, he won an Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America for his 1991 biography of Edgar Allan Poe and the Christopher Literary Award of the Society of American Magicians for his work on Harry Houdini.[3]

Silverman died of lung cancer in Manhattan on July 7, 2017.[1]


  • As Editor, Colonial American Poetry (Hafner Publishing Company, 1968)
  • Timothy Dwight (New York: Twayne, 1969)
  • A Cultural History of the American Revolution (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976) ISBN 978-0-375-40128-2.[4]
  • The Life and Times of Cotton Mather New York: Harper & Row, 1984. (1985 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, 1985 Bancroft Prize in American History) ISBN 978-1-56649-206-5, ISBN 1-56649-206-8.[5]
  • Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance (New York: Harper Collins, 1991) ISBN 0-06-016715-7.[6]
  • Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss, American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King and Prison Breaker - Nothing on Earth Can Hold Houdini a Prisoner!!! (1997) ISBN 0-06-092862-X[7]
  • Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel B. Morse (Random House, 2003) ISBN 978-0-375-40128-2.[8]
  • Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage (Knopf, 2010), ISBN 978-1-4000-4437-5)[9]


  1. ^ a b Grimes, William (July 10, 2017). "Kenneth Silverman, Pulitzer-Winning Author, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2017-07-11. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  2. ^ Magill's Literary Annual History and Biography, 1985, p. 256.
  3. ^ Smitty. "Kenneth Silverman: Harry Houdini – Jewish Star of American History - Art Practical". Art Practical. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  4. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (1976-01-01). A Cultural History of the American Revolution: Painting, Music, Literature, and the Theatre in the Colonies and the United States from the Treaty of Paris to the Inauguration of George Washington, 1763-1789. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. ISBN 9780690010794.
  5. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (1984-03-01). The life and times of Cotton Mather. Harper & Row. ISBN 9780060152314.
  6. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (1992-11-04). Edgar A. Poe: A Biography: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780060923310.
  7. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (1997-10-01). Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Brea. New York, NY: Perennial. ISBN 9780060928629.
  8. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (2010-04-07). Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307434371.
  9. ^ Silverman, Kenneth (2010-01-01). Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9781400044375.

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