Photo: Marion Ettlinger


Edward Ball is the author of five books of nonfiction. He lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Edward was raised in Louisiana and South Carolina and graduated from Brown University. He worked for eight years as a freelance journalist in New York, writing about art and film, and became a columnist for The Village Voice.

Edward returned to one of his hometowns, Charleston, South Carolina, to write his first book. Slaves in the Family (1998) told the story of his family’s history as slave-owners in South Carolina and the stories of ten of the black families they once enslaved. Slaves in the Family won the National Book Award for nonfiction, was a New York Times bestseller, was featured on Oprah, and has been translated into many languages.

Edward’s other books include The Sweet Hell Inside, the story of an African-American family that rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become artists and musicians during the Jazz Age; Peninsula of Lies, the life of English writer Gordon Hall, one of the first sex reassignment patients, who created a national outrage; and The Genetic Strand, a case study in the process of using DNA to investigate family history.

His most recent book, The Inventor and the Tycoon (2013), tells the story of the birth of moving pictures—in California during the 1870s—out of the hands of Edward Muybridge, the pioneering 19th-century photographer (and admitted murderer), and Leland Stanford, the Western railroad magnate.