Famed author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was born Doris Helen Kearns in New York City, on January 4, 1943. Raised in Brooklyn, Goodwin fell “in love” with the Brooklyn Dodgers at a young age, according to her book, Wait till next year : A memoir. She also developed an early affinity for history, politics and writing.
After earning an undergraduate degree from Colby College in Maine in 1964, Goodwin enrolled at Harvard University. During her third year of graduate school, she was awarded a White House Fellowship and, subsequently, a brief assistantship in Washington, D.C. with then Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz, a member of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration at the time. (Wirtz had previously served under John F. Kennedy.)
Around the same time, Goodwin encountered some unexpected publicity when she co-wrote an article for the magazine The New Republic, disparaging Johnson’s decision to expand U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
News of the piece traveled quickly through the White House, attracting the attention of Johnson and his staff—a situation that would typically result in the end of an era for a White House intern, or, at the very least, a slap on the wrist.
Goodwin, however, won a promotion of sorts. Months after the article’s publication, President Johnson asked Goodwin to assist him with writing his memoirs. She accepted and soon embarked on what would later become a decades-long career as a presidential biographer.
Goodwin graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D. in government in 1968. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that she published her first book, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1976)—a result of her early meeting with Johnson and her ensuing analysis of his memoirs.
Her follow-up biography, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga, was released in 1987 and quickly became a best-seller. The book was later adapted for the television series, The Kennedys of Massachusetts, airing in 1990 on ABC.
In 1994, Goodwin released another presidential biography, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, which proved to be one of her biggest achievements. She won immense commercial and critical acclaim for the FDR book, culminating with the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History.
Changing genres in the late 1990s, Goodwin released a memoir detailing her early life in Brooklyn, Wait till Next Year: A Memoir (1997).
Then came her fourth presidential biography, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Released in 2005, it was another literary success.
Her most recent book is The Bully Pulpit : Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden age of Journalism. It captures the Progressive Era through the broken friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft culminating in them running against each other for president in 1912.
In addition to writing, Goodwin has worked for NBC News, as a government professor at Harvard, and as a political commentator. Additionally, in 1994, she served as a consultant for a baseball documentary created by Ken Burns, The History of Baseball.