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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Author Blake Bailey to Depart Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing

Internationally acclaimed author Blake Bailey will take with him fond memories of his Old Dominion University colleagues as he vacates the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing position after six years.

"The creative writing program at Old Dominion is terrific," Bailey said, citing the prestige and achievement found throughout the department's faculty. "I love my colleagues, not only on a professional level but a personal level. They are an estimable bunch."

Bailey, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award and the Francis Parkman Prize, is the official biographer of author Philip Roth, a project he has worked on for four years.

After the spring semester concludes, Bailey said he and his wife will remain in Hampton Roads and that he will continue his exhaustive work on the Roth book, with an eye toward publishing the biography within five years.

Bailey is the only person privy to Roth's personal files until 2050, when the Library of Congress will make the material publicly available.

Bailey's 2003 biography "A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates," was a National Book Critics Circle finalist, as was his recent memoir "The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait."

"Cheever: A Life," Bailey's biography of author John Cheever, won the National Book Critics Circle and the Parkman Prize, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist as well.

Joe Jackson, a well-published Hampton Roads author known for exhaustive reporting and gripping storytelling, will succeed Bailey as the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing.

Jackson, a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written one novel and six nonfiction books, including "The Thief at the End of the World," which was named one of Time magazine's top 10 nonfiction books of 2008, as well as "Leavenworth Train," a finalist for the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book.

The chair is an endowed English professorship initiated in 1997 as a memorial to Mina Hohenberg Darden by her family and friends. Darden received three master's degrees from Old Dominion.

Previous Hohenberg Darden Chairs include poets Peter Meinke and Michael Blumenthal.