Edward Ball was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1958, grew up in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. He finished high school in New Orleans and attended Brown University, graduating in 1982 with a B.A. in Semiotics.
He received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1984, and afterwards moved to New York City, where he worked as a freelance art critic, writing about film, art, architecture, and books for several magazines. For several years, he wrote for The Village Voice, a weekly with a circulation of 450,000.
In 1993, he began to research his family legacy as slave owners in South Carolina, an investigation that resulted in a half-hour National Public Radio documentary, “The Other History,” which was awarded, in 1994, Best Radio Feature by the Society of Professional Journalists. He looked deeper into his family’s story, documented in several archives, and, after three years, published his first book, Slaves in the Family, about his family’s plantations and his search for black Americans whose ancestors the writer’s family had once enslaved. Slaves in the Family was a New York Times bestseller and won the National Book Award for nonfiction.
Edward Ball’s other books comprise biography, history, and memoir. He has taught at Yale University, and he lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Books in order of publication:
Slaves in the Family – 1998
The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in the Segregated South – 2002
Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love – 2004
The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA – 2007
The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures – 2012
Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy – 2020