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Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow Wins National Book Critics Circle Award

Shirley Jackson

On March 15,  2016, Ruth Franklin, a 2014-15 fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography.

As a Leon Levy Fellow, Ms. Franklin worked on a biography of the American writer Shirley Jackson, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.  She has been a book critic and contributing editor at The New Republic and written for other publications including The New YorkerThe New York Review of BooksThe New York Times MagazineBookforumGranta, and Salmagundi.

Shirley Jackson became famous in midcentury America for her short story “The Lottery,” which unnerved readers from the moment it appeared in the New Yorker in 1948, and for a string of gothic novels, as well as her cheerful yet brutally honest essays about juggling four kids, pets, a house, and a husband. In this biography, Ruth Franklin gets at what makes Jackson both sui generis and familiar. Jackson’s fiction, Franklin argues, deserves to be considered as part of the “vibrant and distinguished tradition that can be traced back to the American Gothic work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James.”

For more background click here

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden Now Open!


On September 15, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden celebrated the opening of the new Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a 1.5-acre wetland and riparian environment with an integrated network of innovative sustainability features.  This innovative new infrastructure allows BBG to collect, filter, and recirculate freshwater in the southern part of the Garden.  When the garden-wide Water Conservation Project is completed in 2018, over 20 million gallons of freshwater each year will be conserved.  Through this practice, Brooklyn Botanic Garden helps mitigate combined sewer overflow—a key urban sustainability challenge—and keep unwanted effluent out of local waterways.

“The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the jewels of Brooklyn. I’ve known it since I was a child. And I’m really thrilled at we are involved in this project,” White said.   The Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden is part of BBG’s Campaign for the Next Century.

Dame Hermione Lee to Give Leon Levy Biography Lecture


For the ninth annual Leon Levy Biography Lecture, Dame Hermione Lee–renowned author of the definitive biography of Virginia Wolfe as well as biographies and critical studies of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bowen, and most recently, the brilliant late-developer Penelope Fitzgerald–will speak on the “biographical search for ‘character’.” Her address, titled “Yet Biographers Pretend They Know People,” will take place on Sept. 28, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Lee is president of Wolfson College, Oxford University. There, she also directs the Center for Life Writing. Lee is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British
Empire in 2013.

New York State of Brain- The Fifth Annual Leon Levy Foundation Symposium


The Leon Levy Foundation held its Fifth Annual Neuroscience Symposium on May 4, 2016, hosted by The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  The annual symposium brings together five leading research institutions: Columbia University Medical Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Medical Center, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College. The plenary talk was delivered by Pamela Sklar, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Division of Psychiatric Genomics, Department of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomics, Incahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  The event offers a unique opportunity to have experts in the field meet, present and discuss the latest in neuroscience research.  And showcases the Leon Levy Fellowship Program’s support for the most exceptional young neuroscientists as they begin their careers in studies of the mind, brain and behavior, and encouragement to pursue innovative, risk-taking investigations.

Leon Levy Foundation Visits Grantee Brooklyn Botanic Garden

LLF team at WG site

The Leon Levy Foundation team paid a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to view the spectacular cherry blossoms and take in the progress being made on the Water Garden and Water Conservation Project– a multifaceted strategy to reduce BBG’s consumption of freshwater and combined sewer overflow.  This will give the Garden the ability to filter and reuse water, and will reduce the consumption of freshwater by more than 21 million gallons annually and serve as a sustainable model for other urban gardens and green spaces.  When this groundbreaking infrastructure is in place, the Water Garden will have a big impact on sustainable water consumption in New York City and beyond.  This project is a key element in BBG’s “Campaign for the Next Century”, a multiyear effort that creates four acres of new or expanded garden space as part of BBG’s most significant renewal since its founding over 100 years ago.

Native Plan Garden at Leon Levy Preserve Wins Award


Lewisboro Land Trust is the recipient of Westchester County’s Soil and Water Conservation Achievement award for the implementation of the native plant garden at the Leon Levy Preserve in Lewisboro. The commendation was presented on December 15, 2015 at the Westchester County Center.  The native plant garden, which opened to the public in summer 2015, replaced a lawn that required ongoing maintenance by the town.  Funded by the Jerome Levy Foundation, Lewisboro Land Trust hired landscape designer Pam Pooley to work with Shelby White to create a 5,000-square-foot garden that is low maintenance, deer resistant, friendly to bees and butterflies, and educational. John Jay High School’s Senior Intern Program supplied four seniors who helped plant the garden.

ISAW Exhibit Reveals Unprecedented Photographs of Life in the Royal Court in Tehran


The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past is the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World’s latest gallery exhibition presenting some 200 photographic prints, a number of vintage photographic albums, and memorabilia that utilized formal portraiture of the shah. The exhibition shows how photographers—many of them engaged by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848-1896), the longest reigning Shah of the Qajar Dynasty (1785-1925)— ultimately created a portrait of the country’s ancient and recent past. Most of the photographs in the exhibition have never been publicly displayed.  The exhibit runs from October 22, 2015-January 17, 2016.

IFA Conservation Center Features Leon Levy Fellows

Elkourany Nadia1

The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts has offered, with funds from the Leon Levy Foundation, much-needed training in archaeological conservation to graduate-level students from around the world since 2009. Candidates have come from a broad range of countries including Albania, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Malawi, China, and Egypt. These Levy Visiting Fellows, who enroll in a one-year immersion course at the Conservation Center and then return to their country to work,  are featured in the Center’s latest Newsgram.

Read about the seventh fellow, Egyptian Nadia Fawzy Elkourany (at left), selected for the 2015-16 academic year, and what her predecessors are doing here. (Photo: Nita Lee Roberts/IFA)

The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic Arrives in Venice, Italy

LOD Venice

On 9 October 2015, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center, unveiled A Menagerie of Wonders. The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini at the exhibition centre on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The only Italian stage of a travelling exhibition that has taken the mosaic to some major world museums has been made possible thanks to the support of Patricia and Phillip Frost.

The mosaic was uncovered in 1996 in the Israeli town of Lod, which according to an ancient legend was the birthplace of Saint George. Dating from the 3rd century AD, the mosaic is also particularly interesting because it is so well preserved. One of the finest and largest mosaic floors ever found in Israel, this archaeological gem consists of panels with detailed images of mammals, birds, fish, various plants and ancient ships. The mosaic is made of cubic stone tesserae of various colours: blue, red, yellow, brown, white, several shades of grey, and black.

The mosaic will be on view until 10 January 2016.

The Annual Leon Levy Biography Lecture with Brenda Wineapple

Bio Center

Brenda Wineapple, the acclaimed biographer of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Gertrude and Leo Stein, Janet Flanner and Emily Dickinson, delivered a speech on “The Rosebud Effect: Mystery in Biography” to a full capacity audience at the Leon Levy Biography Lecture on Monday, Oct. 5, at the Graduate Center of CUNY.  An annual event sponsored by the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the lecture has been delivered by Robert Caro, Ron Chernow, Stacy Shiff and others.  Details are here.