Lesley M. M. Blume is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. The daughter of a classical pianist and a journalist, she followed her father’s footsteps into the newsroom, beginning her career at The Jordan Times in Amman and Cronkite Productions in New York City. She later became an off-air reporter and researcher for ABC News Nightline with Ted Koppel in Washington, D.C., where she helped cover the historic presidential election in 2000, the 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a myriad of other events and topics.
Blume now specializes in stories on historical cultural achievements, and has documented seminal moments in the careers of Jackson Pollock, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway, among other greats. She contributes regularly to Vanity Fair, and her work has appeared in many additional publications, including Town & Country, The New York Times, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ Magazine, Vogue, Departures, and The Paris Review Daily.
On June 7, 2016, Eamon Dolan Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released Blume’s new book, Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Sun‘s 1926 release. In early reviews, critics have lauded Everybody Behaves Badly as “essential … a page-turner,” “magnificently reported,” “fiendishly readable,” “riveting,” and “the best book on Hemingway in Paris since A Moveable Feast.” The book became New York Times best seller shortly after its publication.
Everybody Behaves Badly documents the genesis of Hemingway’s career. In the summer of 1925, the now-iconic writer — then twenty-five years old — descended upon Pamplona for its infamous annual bullfight fiesta with a tempestuous entourage in tow, including a femme fatale British aristocrat, a brash, handsome heir who hailed from two of New York’s great Jewish fortunes, one of America’s most celebrated comedic writers, and a down-on-his-luck childhood friend with a penchant for cynical wit.
The holiday quickly spiraled into a morass of sexual rivalry, gory spectacle, brutal hangovers, and black eyes – and gave Hemingway the material he desperately needed to make his breakthrough as a novelist. Upon the release of The Sun Also Rises – which essentially recast all of that bad behavior as high literature — Hemingway was crowned the voice of his “lost” generation and the leader of the modernist movement in fiction – an honorific that still belongs to him today.
Everybody Behaves Badly is the first book to tell the full story behind Hemingway’s earliest published novel and how it propelled him to enduring international fame. Blume’s myth-shattering account features the fascinating figures behind Hemingway’s classic in their own words, and brings 1920s Paris, Pamplona, and New York City alive in an rich and unprecedented way. She culled countless letters, interviews, essays, long-out-of-print memoirs, archives, and interviewed dozens of descendants of the characters’ prototypes and the historical icons who played a vital role in bringing The Sun Also Rises to life — including family members and friends of Hemingway, Jazz Age oracle F. Scott Fitzgerald, redoubtable editor Maxwell Perkins, humorist Donald Ogden Stewart, and many others. She shows how The Sun Also Rises not only immediately defined a generation, but colored the lives of Hemingway’s unwitting prototypes forever.
Her book also explores how Hemingway carefully, relentlessly built his own public persona during this period, which has arguably remained one of America’s most successful cultural exports. At heart, Everybody Behaves Badly is the story of how Hemingway became Hemingway.
Blume’s previous nonfiction books include Let’s Bring Back (2010), a cultural encyclopedia celebrating hundreds of forgotten-yet-delightful objects, pastimes, fashions, delectables, and personalities from bygone eras. It was deemed “whimsical … comical … [and] delightful” by The New Yorker and celebrated by scores of other magazines, newspapers, and broadcasts. Following the success of this initial volume, Chronicle released a top-selling series of topic-specific new editions of Let’s Bring Back – including Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition (2012) and Let’s Bring Back: The Lost Language Edition (2013).
In addition, Blume is the author of It Happened Here (Thornwillow Press, 2011), a book detailing the raucous social history of New York City’s St. Regis Hotel. The book was the inaugural volume of Thornwillow’s new “Libretto series,” which showcasess the work of literary lions past and present, including Peter Matthiessen, Adam Gopnik, and Lewis Lapham. Blume has also collaborated on a variety of book projects with acclaimed photographers, including Vogue contributors Claiborne Swanson Frank (American Beauty, 2011, and Young Hollywood, 2014) and Stephan Wurth (Ghost Town, 2011).
For the amusement of young readers, Blume has authored four critically-acclaimed novels, all published by Knopf. Her debut children’s novel, Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters, has sold over 300,000 copies. Upon the release of her third children’s novel, Tennyson, reviewers compared her to writers Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Truman Capote (“Brilliant, unusual writing.”—The Chicago Tribune). Blume’s first collection of short stories for children, Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties, was released in 2010; her second collection – The Wondrous Journals of Wendell Wellington Wiggins – debuted in 2012. Knopf just released her latest children’s novel – Julia and the Art of Practical Travel – in 2015.
Vogue recently selected Blume as a founding member of the Vogue 100, an organization of “influential decision makers and opinion leaders known for their distinctive taste in fashion and culture, [and who] personify the rising influence of women over the past several decades.” Her individualistic personal style has been showcased in many publications, including Vanity Fair; Elle; O, The Oprah Magazine; Women’s Wear Daily; Style.com; and the websites of American Vogue and Vogue Italia. She co-created and served as founding editor of The Window, Barneys New York’s online fashion and culture magazine, and was the Huffington Post’s founding contributing Style editor.
She holds a B.A. in history from Williams College and earned her masters degree in historical studies from Cambridge University, where she was a Herchel Smith scholar.
Blume recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles with her husband, also once a journalist at Nightline. Their first date was a bio-chemical warfare training session just before the 2003 Iraq invasion.