The following brief biography was compiled from sources including The New York Times and Contemporary Authors.
Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced "HARTH") is an American nonfiction writer and novelist, a Peabody Award-winning journalist, and a New York Times Bestselling Author. She is also a Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author. Two of her books were selected as American Library Association Notable Books.
Ms. Hearth's most recent book, Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York, was published Jan. 2, 2018. Written for middle-grade to adult readers, the book tells the all-but-forgotten story of Elizabeth Jennings, a black schoolteacher who refused to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, setting into motion a historic court case and the first major step in ending segregation in public transportation in New York. Streetcar to Justice is the first biography of Elizabeth Jennings. The book was selected by the American Library Association as a Notable Children's Book.
Ms. Hearth's books have been published by HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Kodansha, and Doubleday, among others. She has been represented by William Morris Agency (now William Morris Endeavor Entertainment) since 1991.
She is the author of two feminist novels set in the 1960s, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society and Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, both published by Simon & Schuster's Atria Books imprint, as well as seven nonfiction books including Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, a blockbuster bestseller which spawned a Broadway play and television film. She is the co-author of Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters by the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society was the November 2012 Simon & Schuster Book Club selection, May 2013 Reader's Digest "Select Edition" (previously, Book of the Month Club), and January 2013 selection of the 600-chapter Pulpwood Queens Book Club founded by Kathy L. Murphy. The book was also a Deep South Magazine pick and an Atria/Simon & Schuster in-house staff favorite.
Ms. Hearth's sequel, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, was published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster in September 2015. The sequel is a Simon & Schuster Book Club pick, a selection of the Pulpwood Queens international Book Club (now with 700-plus chapters), and a January 2016 Reader's Digest "Select Edition." The book was picked, also, for the Fall/Winter 2015 Reading List of Deep South Magazine.
Reader's Digest Brazil published the Portuguese-language edition of both novels. In addition, the novels were translated and published in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 2018, the first "Dreamsville" novel was published in Finland.
Having Our Say, called a "classic oral history" by Newsweek magazine, remains a staple in American classrooms. The book is the story of two very wise and candid centenarian sisters, Sarah L. and A. Elizabeth Delany, whose father was born into slavery in the American South. The book was a New York Times Bestseller for 113 weeks and received numerous awards including an American Library Association Notable Book citation.
Ms. Hearth was an advisor on the Broadway play adaptation of Having Our Say, which earned three Tony Award nominations including Best Play. The play enjoyed a successful run, with 317 performances (source: Broadway World) at Broadway's famed Booth Theater beginning in April 1995.
Ms. Hearth served again as advisor when the book was adapted for a CBS Sunday Night Movie in 1999. Directed by Academy Award winner Lynne Littman, the film starred Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, and Amy Madigan. Ms. Hearth's real-life role was portrayed by Ms. Madigan. For her work on the telefilm adaptation, Ms. Hearth received a Peabody Award.
Ms. Hearth began her career in the newspaper business. Having Our Say, in fact, began as a story she wrote about the then-unknown Delany Sisters for The New York Times. As a reporter who had always been interested in telling the stories of older people, she eagerly followed up on several leads about the mysterious and reclusive pair. When she finally met them, her hopes of an interview almost didn't work out, as she later told The New York Times in a story published on April 2, 1995: "They didn't think they were important enough. I had to convince them and gave this little impromptu speech - that I thought it was very important that people from their generation be represented, especially black women who hadn't had much opportunity. I guess my enthusiasm rubbed off."
Ms. Hearth is a thirteenth-generation American whose ancestors fought for independence in the Revolutionary War. She has some Native American (Lenni-Lenape) ancestry as well, and was given the Native name "Smiling Songbird Woman" by the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians in a tribal ceremony in 2010 in honor of the oral history she wrote about their tribal matriarch, "Strong Medicine" Speaks: A Native American Elder Has Her Say.
Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Ms. Hearth moved with her family to Schenectady, N.Y. and then to Columbia, South Carolina, where she spent her formative years. The family returned to New York and back to Pittsfield, where she graduated high school. She attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, majoring in Sociology, then transferred to the University of Tampa, Fla., where she earned a B.A. in Writing and was editor of the college newspaper. Her first newspaper job was assistant arts and entertainment editor at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass. She was, also, an intern in investigative journalism at Tampa Magazine in the Spring of 1982. Her first fulltime reporting job was in Florida at the Daytona Beach News-Journal (where she met her future husband when she interviewed him for a story). After relocating to the New York area, she wrote 88 bylined news and feature stories for The New York Times including her article on the Delany Sisters.
Ms. Hearth and her husband, Blair, a native of Naples, Florida, live by the ocean in New Jersey, about an hour from Manhattan, with their Boston Terrier, who was adopted from Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue.
Charity and Non-Profit Work
Founding President, Board of Directors, Native American Advancement Corp., 2010-2013.
Founding Trustee, Board of Directors, New Jersey Center for the Book/Library of Congress, 2002-2003.
Inaugural event (with author Michael Connelly), University of Tampa's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, 2012.
CREDITS (other than published books)
Advisor/Consultant to the Producers, theatrical adaptation of Having Our Say,1995.
Advisor/Consultant to the Producers, film adaptation of Having Our Say, 1999.
MAGAZINE, NEWSPAPER CREDITS include:
The New York Times: 88 bylined stories from January 22, 1989 to June 14, 1992.
Smithsonian magazine, "Bessie and Sadie: the Delany Sisters Relive a Century," October 1993.
American Heritage magazine article on the Delany Sisters, October 1993.
Publisher's Weekly magazine, "You Can Fool Mother Nature," essay, Dec. 12, 2011.
"Searching for Abraham," Tampa Review, Volume 23; 2002.
ACADEMIC (PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLE WITHIN EDITED VOLUME):
"The Delany Sisters: 'We Are North Carolinians,' " article included in edited volume North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, Volume II, (July 1, 2015) part of a series published by the University of Georgia Press called, "Southern Women: Their Lives and Times"
PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS include:
"You Only Need One," ASJA Monthly, newsletter of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, January 2003.
FEATURED WEB CREDITS include:
"Having Their Say: Strong Voices from the Marginalized Majority," NWSAction, the online magazine of the National Women's Studies Association, Fall 2007.
"'Strong Medicine' Speaks," Smithsonian.com, January 2008.