Scidmore Biography Set for March 1 Release

Scidmore book coverI’m not trained as a historian. But I’m proud of the book I’ve just written for all the scholarship it provides. The first-ever biography of Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, it contains tons of new findings that will come as a great surprise to people who know her mostly as the woman behind Washington’s Japanese cherry trees.


The book, published by Oxford University Press, is set for launch in U.S. bookstores on March 1, 2023. If you order from Oxford’s website (at, you can use the promotion code AAFLYG6 to get a 30% discount.

Here are some other sources:

Oxford is publishing the book simultaneously in the U.K. The press’s large international reach is a boon for the broad scope of Scidmore’s fascinating story, which includes authorship of travel books on Alaska, Japan, Java, China and India, and a novel based on her reporting during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5.

Starting out, I certainly never expected to spend a decade on this project. But so it turned out. Though I had a lot of experience in writing and editing nonfiction, a book-length narrative was a new format for me. The genre of biography carries its own challenges in research and interpretation. Because so little was known about Scidmore, I had to track down a lot of primary sources to reconstruct her life.

Then, just when the finish line seemed to be in sight, I ran into the headwinds of Covid. Institutional shutdowns caused delays and made it tough to get the final records I needed.

Now, at last, the victory lap. So far I’ve been encouraged by the positive response of several early reviewers, as  several of whom wrote lovely blurbs for the book.

And I couldn’t be happier about the gorgeous cover. The lovely cherry tree image comes from a hand-colored photo I found at the National Archives in Washington.

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  1. Sherry Opp on November 11, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    Diana this is Sherry Opp, your mother in law’s friend. You and Doris came to my home one day earlier this year. You graciously gave me a signed copy of your book. I have read it and I was enthralled with it! It is a well written book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The work and the time that you had to put into making this project come to life had to be sometimes overwhelming!! And then couvid got into the picture!! Thank you for your dedication and diligence in completing the book. Congratulations on your success and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. I’ve even shared it with some friends that I have coffee with and they too were impressed with your book. Thank you again for sharing your book!!!

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