Deborah Davis : Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Deborah Davis

Historian & Author

Deborah Davis is the author of six narrative non-fiction books, including Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner that Shocked a Nation, which tells the story of the remarkable event that ignited a racial storm, divided the country, and threatened to topple two of America’s greatest men.

Can a dinner change history? Davis believes it can, and she vividly illustrates exactly why in Guest Of Honor. In her insightful account, a single dinner in 1901 serves as a unique lens into the issues of race, politics, and social class at a pivotal moment in American history. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, former slave, distinguished educator, and renowned orator, to have dinner with the First Family in the White House family quarters. Booker T. accepted, and along with Mrs. Roosevelt, their sons, and another guest, spent a convivial evening eating, drinking, and discussing politics and current events. The next morning, the news that a black man had dinner with the President at the White House sent shockwaves through the nation. Although blacks built the White House and worked for most of the Presidents, including Roosevelt, not a single African American had ever been invited to dine there. The repercussions of Roosevelt and Booker T.’s dinner were immediate and immense, forever changing the landscape of race in America.

Davis’ other works include Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X, the story behind the legendary John Singer Sargent painting that propelled the artist to international renown but condemned his subject to a life of public ridicule; Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball, which transports readers to the Oz-like splendor of New York in 1966, where Capote, at the pinnacle of his fame, threw himself the party to end all parties; The Secret Lives of Frames: 100 Years of Art and Artistry, a history of the picture frame, the beautiful, hardworking, and frequently overlooked Cinderella of the art world; and Gilded: How Newport Became the Richest Resort in America, a colorful history of the fabled city from its first colonists to its new millennium millionaires; and The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy, chronicling twenty-five years of the television phenomenon.

Davis has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Magazine Antiques, and Art and Antiques. Prior to becoming an author, she was a story editor and story analyst for several major film companies, including Warner Bros. Miramax, and Disney. Davis lives with her husband in Montclair, New Jersey and is the mother of two children.

Interested in booking Deborah Davis to speak at your next event?

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  • A Place at the Table: Blacks in the White House, from Booker T. Washington to Barack Obama
  • The White House Dinner that Launched the Civil Rights Movement
  • A Social History of the White House


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