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, called The Accidental Art Thieves, follows a group of grad students in Cambridge, Mass., who become the unwilling guardians of a stolen Renaissance painting. To return the painting to its owner in Venice, they must evade an array of menacing figures from academia and the art world. The second novel is a historical mystery called Death of a Zoologist, in which a freshman at Harvard in 1872 tries to unravel the mystery of his Natural History professor’s death. Along the way, his religious beliefs clash with new ideas from Darwin, Emerson, and other thinkers that were causing ripples throughout the 19th-century world.
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writing fiction, she is the founding editor of Embark: A Literary Journal for Novelists, which features the openings of unpublished novels.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 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 on Neglected Authors with the aim of bringing more attention to some of the works she has 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.