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Dava Sobel, photo by Libi Pedder
Dava Sobel


NYS Writers Institute, November 10, 2011
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Dava Sobel, bestselling science writer, author of Galileo’s Daughter (1999) and Longitude (1995), will present her new biography of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the reclusive Polish priest who changed mankind’s view of the Universe, on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.


Dava Sobel,
bestselling science writer, is the author most recently of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos (2011), the story of the reclusive Polish Catholic priest (1473-1543) whose scientific observations changed mankind’s view of the Universe. Sobel explains Copernicus’s discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, and his courageous defiance of received wisdom, religious tradition and ordinary “common sense.” She also chronicles the events of the “Copernican Revolution,” how his manuscripts circulated secretly among the great scientific personalities of Renaissance Europe, and how his work finally came to be published for a wider audience as the author lay on his deathbed.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller called it, “A heavenly book…. a great story filled with fascinating characters, excruciating near-misses and the sudden splendor of the new discovery,” and said, “[T]his beautiful book, combining science and a sort of poetic awe, is emblematic of her work as a whole.” The Library Journal reviewer said, “Sobel has the knowledge and writerly grace to explain what Copernicus accomplished,” and called it, “A book on science and personality that should intrigue us all.”

Embedded in the new book is Sobel’s play about Copernicus, “And the Sun Stood Still,” which was presented as a staged reading by the Writers Institute in April 2008. The play, a fictional speculation intended to fill a two-year gap in the life of the astronomer, has continued to be developed over the course of the past few years in consultation with playwright, director, UAlbany professor and New York State Writers Institute Program Fellow W. Langdon Brown, among others.

Sobel’s 1995 surprise bestseller, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, winner of the British Book of the Year award, tells the tale of John Harrison, a self-educated 18th century English clockmaker and his quest to develop a reliable instrument for ocean navigation. The Washington Post called it, “A simple tale, brilliantly told.” The book was adapted as a critically-acclaimed, four hour A&E television special starring Jeremy Irons.

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love
(1999), was a number one New York Times nonfiction bestseller, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The book presents the fascinating relationship between Galileo and his illegitimate daughter, Virginia, a Franciscan nun. Entertainment Weekly said that Sobel “[transforms] what could have been a dusty academic subject into a rich, gripping page-turner.” The book was named one of the best books of the year by the American Library Association, and Esquire, and was a New York Times Notable Book.

Sobel is also the author of the lavishly illustrated The Planets (2005). The book combines lyrical prose, and beautiful examples of human art, poetry, and storytelling, with Sobel’s singular talent for explaining both the history of science and modern-day scientific discoveries.

Previous Visits:
April 14, 2008
November 16, 2005

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.