Rediscover: Jean Stein

Author and editor Jean Stein, a pioneer of narrative oral history with works like American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy (1971) and Edie: An American Biography (1982), died on April 30 at age 83. While studying in Paris during the 1950s, Stein conducted a lengthy interview with novelist William Faulkner (with whom she shared a romantic attachment), which she leveraged into an editorial position at the Paris Review. Upon her return to New York, Stein worked for Clay Felker of Esquire magazine. Between 1990 and 2004, she was editor and publisher of Grand Street, a quarterly literary journal.

American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy, written in collaboration with Paris Revue editor George Plimpton, was inspired in part by Stein's trip on the train that bore RFK's body from New York to Washington (as facilitated by her first husband, lawyer and Kennedy aide William vanden Heuvel). Stein and Plimpton also worked together on Edie: An American Biography, about heiress and Andy Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick, who died of a drug overdose at age 28. Jean Stein's most recent work, West of Eden: An American Place, is an oral history of the figures that shaped early Hollywood, including Stein's father, a co-founder of MCA. It was released in paperback in February 2017 (Random House, $20, 9780812987935). --Tobias Mutter

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