Patricia Bosworth ’55

Patricia Bosworth ’55Patricia Bosworth ’55 is a journalist and biographer, memoirist, and former actress. She has written biographies on Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, Marlon Brando, and Jane Fonda. Her most recent book is The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950's Manhattan. She will be featured in Writers’ Night, an alumni event in New York City on January 22, in conversation with Emmy Award-winning executive producer and co-host of Theater Talk, Susan Haskins '71.

Why did you choose Sarah Lawrence?
Maybe because I have always felt most comfortable in a state of transition—all my life I’ve gotten the most satisfaction from situations where I was becoming something else—a college student, a wife, becoming an actress, becoming an editor, and then a writer. Sarah Lawrence, as part of its liberal arts philosophy, dedicates itself to educating the student simply to be.

Did you have a favorite class?
At Sarah Lawrence, I first developed my identity as a woman and became aware of other achieving women—at Sarah Lawrence, my favorite class was a writing course with the poet Jane Cooper where I first attempted to dominate my own experience on paper and give it shape and form.

What was your favorite spot on campus?
A place called "The Caf" in Reisinger (not there anymore, I don’t think). We'd go for coffee and conversation, watch television, catch up on the news...I loved to walk all over campus—up and down those rolling hills—they reminded me of my childhood in Berkeley where everything seemed on a grassy green slope.

You’ve done so much in your career, in acting, writing, and beyond. Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on so far?
Researching my biography of the photographer Diane Arbus (published by Norton). I focused on her various worlds—the world of fashion and the dark world of freaks and eccentrics she documented so brilliantly. She believed she was an adventuress with her camera. Her ambition was, “to photograph every archetype.” She once said, “A photograph is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”

How is the experience of writing a memoir different from writing a biography?
Ideally, my voice as a biographer is scholarly—but not academic— objective when weighing the facts. In memoir, it’s all about developing personal narrative—it’s episodic—I’m always trying to make sense of my past. But in both forms I think and interpret and, yes finally, write in my own voice. I think very hard about what I want to say.