Stainton, Leslie 1955–

views updated

Stainton, Leslie 1955–


Born December 4, 1955, in Lancaster, PA; daughter of William W. (a lawyer) and Scarlett P. (an artist) Stainton; married Andrew A. Anderson (divorced September 9, 1992); married Steven M. Whiting, January 2, 1999; stepchildren: Jeremy, Julia. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Franklin and Marshall College, B.A., 1977; University of Massachusetts, M.F.A., 1985. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, travel, reading.


Home—Ann Arbor, MI. Agent—Carol Mann, 55 5th Ave., New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and editor, 1984—. University of Michigan, worked at university art museum, 1990-96, lecturer, 2003-07, and editor for School of Public Health, 1998—; Borders Books, Ann Arbor, MI, editor, 1996-98.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Fulbright award, 1984-86; award for best biography, Society of Midland Authors, 1999, for Lorca.


Lorca: A Dream of Life, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (London, England), 1998, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1999.

Also coauthor of "On Writers and Writing," a series of calendars and desk diaries.


In her debut book, Lorca: A Dream of Life, Stainton examines the life of the Spanish poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca. According to a review in Publishers Weekly "Lorca's great creative achievements are a bit muted here, perhaps because so many of his forty-two years were spent in incubation rather than productivity, and perhaps also because so many pages explore his grappling with his sexuality and his subsequent glorifying of it. In Stainton's telling, however, Lorca's artistic development and his struggles with interfering forces form a dramatic and powerful story." John Woodford, a writer for the online journal Michigan Today, credits Stainton with an explanation of her logic regarding the treatment of Lorca's sexuality: "‘I tried to give a sense of his sexual identity as it unfolded to him during the course of his life,’ Stainton said. ‘Among the new material were romantic letters that convey Lorca's passionate aesthetic and emotional involvement with Salvador Dali.’"

Joan Smith, a critic in the Financial Times, took exception to the presentation of Lorca as one who died for a political cause. Smith wrote, "The final pages of Leslie Stainton's book make distressing reading, partly because the notion of Lorca as a political martyr—which is what he became—is so at odds with her account of his short life." Yet another commentator, Bryce Christensen, noted in Booklist that Stainton "rescues" Lorca "from ideology, showing that Lorca rarely acted on political impulses and that he died not as a partisan but rather as an anguished and vulnerable human being." A reviewer for the Toronto Globe & Mail stated that Stainton "writes clearly and well, generously contextualizing both events and movement relevant to Lorca's exploits, pursuits, and dreams." And Library Journal contributor Jack Shreve praised the author for providing "a straightforward biography of the greatest Spanish poet of this century." That critic believed that by using previously undiscovered letters and archival material, Stainton breathes "vigorous life into her subject."

Stainton once told CA: "I love language. And, like Virginia Woolf, I don't want to leave life's tap running without attempting to catch some part of it." She listed Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Oates, Richard Ellman, and Sylvia Plath as writers who have influenced her. She stated that "revision, revision, revision" is the key to her work. She added: "I wrote Lorca: A Dream of Life because I felt a profound moral imperative to do what I could to bring Lorca back to life, or at the very least to revive his presence in the consciousness of the reading public. As naive as it sounds, I wanted to deny Lorca's killers their unconscionable triumph."



Booklist, May 15, 1999, Bryce Christensen, review of Lorca: A Dream of Life, p. 1662.

Financial Times, January 16, 1999, Joan Smith, "Death and the Playwright: During his Life Lorca Was an Unlikely Candidate for Political Martyrdom, Argues Joan Smith," p. 6.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), November 13, 1999, review of Lorca.

Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Jack Shreve, review of Lorca, p. 113.

Observer (London, England), December 19, 1999, Tristan Quinn, review of Lorca, p. 14; December 20, 1998, Peter Conrad, review of Lorca, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, May 10, 1999, review of Lorca, p. 51.

Times (London, England), November 19, 1998, Ilan Stavans, review of Lorca, p. 44.


Michigan Today, (July 24, 2008), John Woodford, "Fulbright Spain: Leslie Stainton, an Author's Dream."