Phyllis Theroux is an essayist, columnist, author and teacher. Born in San Francisco, California, she is the critically acclaimed author of a memoir, California and Other States of Grace (Morrow), two essay collections Peripheral Visions (Morrow) and Nightlights: Bedtime Stories for Parents in the Dark (Scribner), an anthology, The Book of Eulogies (Scribner), a children’s book, Serefina Under the Circumstances (Greenwillow Press), a novella Giovanni’s Light (Scribner), and a memoir, The Journal Keeper (Grove Atlantic) Her latest book, The Good Bishop (Orbis Books), a prize-winning biography of a controversial Catholic prelate, Walter F. Sullivan, was published in the Spring of 2013. Most recently, she wrote a stage play, “The Companion,”about a woman with agoraphobia, in collaboration with Tom Parks, which debuted at The Carl Cherry theater in Carmel, California in 2014.
A contributing essayist on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer from 1992 – 1996, her columns, op-ed pieces, reviews and feature stories have appeared in various newspapers including The New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and International Herald Tribune. In the l980’s, she was a monthly columnist for Parents Magazine . In the l990’s she wrote a monthly column for House Beautiful. Her essays continue to be anthologized in numerous collections.
Following the publication of The Book of Eulogies, in l997 she created “The Great American Portraits Program” which was sponsored by the Library of Congress and toured various cities in the United States. She has been a guest professor and lecturer at numerous forums, colleges and universities.
The founder of Nightwriters, which has conducted creative writing seminars in the California and Italy, she occasionally hosts one-on-one editorial seminars with individual writers who come to spend time working in her writer’s cottage in Ashland, Virginia.
A community activist and educator, in 1989, she formed a non-profit organization (“Winners in Grade School”) to attract grants and support an inner-city Washington, D. C. elementary school where she taught creative writing to fifth graders between 1989 – 1993. During that time she created a consortium of private schools to be partners in education with the school.
A graduate of Manhattanville College, with a B.A. in Philosophy, she has three grown children and lives with her husband, Ragan Phillips in the small, Victorian-era railroad town of Ashland, Virginia. Currently, she is working on a biography of her mother who lived with her for the last five years of her life.