Biography of Erik Larson

Erik Larson is an American writer and historian, known for his vivid renditions of historical topics such as Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and Hitler’s Berlin.

Larson was born on January 3, 1954 in Brooklyn. When asked what he liked to read as a child, Larson told an interviewer, It depends on the phase. I loved the Tom Swift series, and I actually loved Nancy Drew books. I think I read them all. And then I graduated pretty quickly to the Dumas books. I loved The Three Musketeers. I loved The Count of Monte Cristo. And when I was quite young, I got into reading Dickens. I’m not sure I really understood Bleak House, but I thought it was great. I was not a voracious reader, though. I was more interested in drawing.”

He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Russian literature, and earned a masters in journalism from Columbia University. He worked at the Bucks County Courier Times briefly, then became a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. He was a contributing writer for Time Magazine and has published pieces in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and more.

Larson’s first book of narrative nonfiction was Isaac’s Storm (1999), which was highly acclaimed and won the American Meteorology Society’s Louis J. Battan Award and the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 2016 Carl Sandburg Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He followed up with The Devil in the White City (2002), In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (2011), and Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (2015).

Larsen has taught non-fiction writing in several universities, including Johns Hopkins, San Francisco State, and the University of Oregon.

Larsen lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is also a writer. They have three daughters.


Study Guides on Works by Erik Larson

Erik Larson's works tend to reflect his highly academic approach to life. A summa cum laude grad of the University of Pennsylvania, and also of Columbia University, he turned to journalism after seeing the film All the President's Men, which helps...