Katharine Weber

Novelist and administrator of the Kay Swift Memorial Trust

  • About Katharine Weber

    Katharine Weber is the author of the memoir The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities, and the novels True Confections, Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, from The New York Times Book Review to The New YorkerSouthwest Review, Salon, Vogue, Tablet, The London Review of Books, Architectural Digest, and elsewhere. She is a trustee and the administrator of the Kay Swift Memorial Trust, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the music of her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, composer of the first Broadway musical with a score by a woman, Fine and Dandy (1930), and other popular show tunes of the era, such as “Can This Be Love?” and “Can’t We Be Friends?”

    Katharine Weber lives in Connecticut, spends parts of the year in Paris and in rural Ireland, and is a thesis adviser in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. She has recently been appointed the Richard L. Thomas Chair at Kenyon College, a five-year, spring-term teaching position.

  • Speaking Topics

    Chocolate and the History of American Candy

    Katharine Weber's immersion in the candy industry while she researched and wrote her satiric novel True Confections has given her an insider's knowledge of the delectable history and politics of chocolate and candy in America. Warning: This entertaining talk triggers chocolate and candy cravings and goes well with dessert!

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911

    As the granddaughter of an immigrant seamstress who finished buttonholes at the factory of the Triangle Waist Company in 1909, Katharine Weber's own family history was one of the inspirations for her fictional exploration of the events and consequences of that tragic 1911 fire in her novel Triangle. (She appeared in HBO's 100th anniversary documentary film.) Her talk can be tailored for audiences interested in learning about the fire and its historic significance—from the ashes of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire came stricter regulations, empowered unions, and labor protections of FDR's New Deal—or for audiences interested in a discussion of this novel's depiction of and relationship to the historic events of the Triangle fire and its aftermath.

    George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and the American Songbook

    Katharine Weber's memoir, The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities, sheds light on her grandmother's romance with George Gershwin. (Kay Swift, composer of the enduring hit songs "Fine and Dandy" and "Can't We Be Friends?" was the love of Gershwin's life, though she was married to banker Jimmy Warburg, her lyricist, for most of the decade of their romance.) Weber offers a unique, insider's sense of how their deepest connection was through their music.

    This talk can be enhanced by a cabaret-style musical performance, with Aaron Gandy, artistic adviser to the Kay Swift Trust, at the piano, accompanying one or two vocalists singing Swift and Gershwin songs (see aarongandy.com).

    Vermeer and the Narrative Impulse

    Katharine Weber's second novel, The Music Lesson, was the first of the "Vermeer novels" that flowed from many novelists' pens in the wake of the 1996 Vermeer exhibition in Washington and The Hague. In this illustrated talk, Weber offers insights into how and why the intimacy and ambiguity of Jan Vermeer's paintings invite the invention of narrative in such beguiling and enduring fashion.

  • Video

  • Praise for Katharine Weber

    Praise for The Memory of All That

    Weber is an accomplished novelist; she knows well how to manipulate fictional form, as any reading of her 2006 novel Triangle will readily illustrate….In The Memory of All That, Weber’s eye for detail and for the right phrase is undiminished. No, no, they can’t take that away.

    Chicago Sun-Times

    Old scandals. What fun...The core of her tale is that of elegant sin and betrayal.

    Daily News
  • Books by Katharine Weber

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  • 212 572-2013
  • Katharine Weber travels from Connecticut