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In topics ranging from risk-taking to human height,

Ralph Keyes’s 17 books

have reflected and influenced our culture.

Is There Life After High School? was made into a Broadway musical that is still produced in this country and abroad. Chancing It was called a Notable book of the year by the New York Times. During its quarter-century in print, his 1995 book The Courage to Write has become a standard resource for aspiring writers in particular. The Post Truth Era (2004) contributed its title and theme (the decline of honesty) to public discourse.

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Keyes’s recent books have focused on language. “Nice Guys Finish Seventh” and his definitive reference work The Quote Verifier explore the origins of quotations, with an emphasis on correcting misconceptions about who said what. I Love It When You Talk Retro is about “retroterms,” words and phrases that are rooted in our past. Euphemania considers how and why we use evasive words. His latest book, The Hidden History of Coined Words (2021), explores the many surprising ways in which words have been created.

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See all Ralph Keyes's books

ARTICLES & ESSAYS

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Hundreds of articles and essays by Keyes have appeared in publications ranging from GQ to Good Housekeeping. An article he co-authored won the McKinsey Award for Best Article of the Year in the Harvard Business Review. Several of his essays have been deemed “notable” by the annual compilation of The Best American Essays.

GUEST SPEAKER

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In addition to writing Keyes has spoken to gatherings that range from professional, corporate and educational groups to ones for writers. During the pandemic he made virtual presentations about word-coining to groups such as the Smithsonian, the Boston Athenaeum, the Planet Word museum, and England’s Ilkley Literature Conference. He has also taught courses on writing at schools, colleges and writer’s conferences.

MEDIA APPEARANCES

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Following early media appearances on The Tonight Show and All Things Considered Keyes appeared on Oprah Winfrey, The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, and 20/20. On National Public Radio he’s been interviewed by Susan Stamberg, Robert Siegel, and Terry Gross, among others. Several BBC radio interviewers have discussed his work on language with Keyes.

CAREER TIMELINE

1970-2020

Authored 17 books 

Lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Headed Antioch Writers’ Workshop board
 

CURRENTLY

Lives with his wife Muriel in Portland, Oregon where he enjoys spending time with his two sons and their families

1967

Graduated Antioch College 

Graduate work London

 

School of Economics and Political Science

1968-1970

Assistant to the Publisher of Long Island’s Newsday (Bill Moyers)
 
Fellow of the Center for Studies of the Person in La Jolla, California 

Free-lance writing and lecturing in the Philadelphia area

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Keyes belongs to the Authors Guild and is listed in Gale Literature's Contemporary Authors.