Author Diana Parsell

Photo by Suz Redfearn

Diana Parsell spent years as a reporter looking for good stories. She stumbled onto a great one while living and working in Jakarta. The reprint of an 1897 travelogue on Java inspired her to write the first-ever biography of its author, the well-traveled 19th-century journalist and Washington cherry tree visionary Eliza Scidmore.

A graduate of Marietta College in her Ohio hometown, Diana is, like Scidmore, a native of the Midwest who made Washington her adopted home. Other parallels: working on and off for National Geographic and traveling widely in Southeast Asia.

Diana found an unexpected specialty in science writing during graduate studies in journalism at the University of Missouri. She has been a writer and editor at major media and science organizations including The Washington Post, the National Institutes of Health and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her bylines have appeared in a wide range of mainstream and special-interest publications.

Long active in Washington’s vibrant literary community, Diana was among the writers and editors who founded the online Washington Independent Review of Books in 2011. In an outgrowth of her book research she is volunteer docent for public tours of the Library of Congress.

Her honors and awards have included fellowships from Rotary International and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In support of her new book she received a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography and the 2017 Hazel Rowley Prize from Biographers International Organization (BIO).

Diana lives with her husband, Bruce, in Falls Church, Va.