Melissa Febos

“Anyone who makes a life of what they love is a hero to me, and it’s important for those people to be visible in every kind of life, every kind of love, every kind of work”

A fearless voice in literary non-fiction, Melissa Febos uses stories from her life to explore the process of self transformation. Her extraordinary lyrical voice and natural empathy vividly illustrates the way she transformed an innate single mindedness that once led her down self-destructive paths to a force in creating a fulfilling and creative life.

Joining the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed, Febos’ voice has become an inspiring - and galvanizing - call to draw strength from the darkest periods of one’s life and to live more truthfully to oneself. Her TED Talk, “Telling Your Secrets Can Set You Free” as well as her appearances on NPR’s Fresh Air and CNN demonstrate her sense of humor and displays her innate ability to connect deeply with the wide variety of audiences to whom she has spoken.

Her most recent book, Girlhood, focuses on this process of transformation through the lens of womens' experience -"Blending investigative reporting, memoir, and scholarship, Febos charts how she and others like her have reimagined relationships and made room for the anger, grief, power, and pleasure women have long been taught to deny." Her next memoir, Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative, will be published in the spring of 2022.

"Her mastery over metaphor is astonishing . . . What might be mere navel-gazing for a less brilliant author is made powerfully universal here. Though the particulars are hers, just about anyone can relate to the feeling of a chasm opening up inside. Febos’ awakening to her full identity, even its ugliness, is a powerful and redemptive epic." - ​Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a best book of 2017. Her third book, Girlhood, an essay collection illustrated by Forsyth Harmon, is forthcoming on March 30, 2021 from Bloomsbury. A craft book, Body Work, is forthcoming in 2022 from Catapult. In 2018, Febos was the recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the Sarah Verdone Writing Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has been awarded other prizes and fellowships from MacDowell, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute at the Camargo Foundation, Ragdale, Prairie Schooner, and others. Her essays have recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Paris Review, The Sun, McSweeney’s, The Believer, and The New York Times. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.


"Melissa Febos was such a delight to work with from beginning until the end. At the event she read a piece was exactly on the theme of the evening; it was at once hilarious and thought-provoking and gorgeously written. She also did a fabulous job teaching a three hour class the following day, the students were raving about it in her evaluations. We would love to have her return any time"

--Christine Texeira, Hugo House