Ursula DeYoung lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, Shorecliff—a family drama set in Maine in the 1920s—was published by Little, Brown in 2013. She is currently working on two new novels. The first, Whittier & Co., tells the story of a young Bostonian woman in 1887 who learns that her late father named her in his will as the next director of his importing business. Surrounded by ambitious colleagues and misogynistic rivals, hampered further by her own lack of training and experience, Maisie must carve out a place for herself as a leader in a world of men. The second novel, A Death and Nine Lives, begins with a seemingly inexplicable murder in a Midwestern town in 1961: a retired factory owner walks into a neighbor’s house one morning and shoots him, though the two men haven’t spoken in years. From there, the book delves into the lives of the nine people connected with the death, gradually revealing the reasons behind the murder and, at the same time, unveiling the complexity and varied histories contained within one small community.
Ursula grew up in the coastal town of Manchester-by-the-Sea in Massachusetts. After earning her undergraduate degree in History and Literature from Harvard, she went on to study for her doctorate in History at Oxford, focusing on 19th-century British scientists and their impact on society. In 2011, Palgrave Macmillan published her first nonfiction book, A Vision of Modern Science, on the physicist John Tyndall. Aside from her four years in the UK and two year-long stints in New York, Ursula has always lived in New England and feels a deep affinity for the region.
In addition to writing fiction, she is the founding editor of Embark: A Literary Journal for Novelists, which features the openings of unpublished novels. Issued twice a year, Embark showcases fine writing from every genre. The authors’ statements that accompany the novel openings offer fascinating windows into the working lives of today’s up-and-coming novelists.
As a devoted reader and an aficionado of previous eras, Ursula loves discovering little-known authors from the past, especially those from the 19th and early 20th centuries. She has written a collection of essays focusing on such Neglected Authors with the aim of bringing more attention to some of the novels she has most enjoyed.
Ursula teaches at GrubStreet in Boston, one of America’s foremost creative-writing centers. She offers a series of seminars on the craft of novel-writing and leads regular multi-week workshops on the Novel In Progress.