All We Know: English Professor’s Triple-Biography Continues to be a Pretty Big Deal

Lisa CohenSince its release this past July, English professor Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives has continued to make waves in the literary world.  A biography of three queer women who were deeply embedded in early 20th century culture, Cohen’s book was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 10 “Best Books of 2012,” in addition to being among the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012.” Most recently, Cohen’s book was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. You can find the interview here.

The book traces the lives of Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland, women who were active in prominent intellectual and cultural spheres of the early 20th century, but who still remained largely under the radar.  Their backgrounds and lifestyles are radically different from one another, but their stories intersect in meaningful ways.

From the Publishers Weekly review:

Lovers of both sexes, the three mingled at varying depths with the Bloomsbury coterie, the Paris cohort, and the Hollywood crowd, but this well-researched, gossipy, informative, and entertaining biographical triptych is also a thoughtful, three-part inquiry into the meaning of failure, style, and sexual identity.

In an advance New Yorker review of the book in March, Hilton Als wrote, “Like all great books … it will reverberate and eventually become essentially ‘languageless’ in my mind as it continues to live as a profound thing in my heart.”

You can’t get much more complimentary than that.  Months later, Cohen’s book continues to live up to the hype.