September 11, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Debby Applegate, a 1989 graduate of Amherst and the author of the The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, will speak on “Henry Ward Beecher and Victorian America” at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Sponsored by the departments of American studies and history at Amherst, Applegate’s talk is free and open to the public.

Applegate’s biography of Beecher has been widely and exuberantly praised as a compelling story and an important history. USA Today wrote that “Beecher’s life, with its triumphs, struggles, public acclaim, private sexual temptations and scandal, created a pattern followed by other Americans such as JFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bill Clinton.” The paper noted that Applegate created a “drama of desire and betrayal that puts a human face on The Most Famous Man in America.”

The New York Times noted that “by illuminating Beecher’s position in history, Applegate has produced a biography worthy of its subject…. His career took place during what one scholar has called the Protestant Century, when an eloquent preacher could be a sexy celebrity, the leader of one or more reform movements and a popular philosopher—all at the same time.”

Applegate is a summa cum laude graduate in American studies from Amherst and was a Sterling Fellow at Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. She has written for publications ranging from the Journal of American History to The New York Times, and has taught at Yale and Wesleyan universities.