Priscilla Coit Murphy

Author's Information

Priscilla Coit Murphy is an independent scholar living in Chapel Hill, N.C. She grew up in New England, where she learned to love its shores, lakes, and mountains, as well as the lively culture of the Boston area. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College, a master’s from American University, and a doctorate in media history from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A lifelong book lover, Priscilla has worked in various ares of book publishing, especially as a manuscript editor. Her interest in mass media and media history soon merged with her interest in books and book publishing, and she has concentrated on the interactions between books and the media in framing public discussion.

In What a Book Can Do, she explores the history of how Rachel Carson's 1962 bestseller Silent Spring came to be published and, through its life in the media, put the issues of pesticide abuse and environmental awareness into public awareness.

In addition, she has written a chapter on books and the media for Vol. 5 of the History of the Book in America and in Rethinking Media Change from MIT’s Media in Transition Series. She has taught in UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, as well as its School of Information and Library Science and its School of Government.

Currently, she is completing Dewauki's Last Days, a novel about the staff, management, and guests of a New Hampshire grande-dame-style resort hotel in 1965, the inn's final summer and a dramatic time in American history.

Selected Works

Nonfiction
“Highly readable and often illuminating history of the writing and aftermath of Rachel Carson's masterpiece”
Chapter on books and the media in History of the Book in America Vol. 5
Historical survey of predictions about the end of books

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