Author Diana Parsell

Photo by Suz Redfearn

Diana Parsell is a nonfiction writer and author in the Washington, D.C., area. As a former journalist and science writer, she spent years looking for good stories. She stumbled onto a great one while living and working in Southeast Asia. An 1897 travelogue on Java inspired her to write the first-ever biography of its author in Eliza Scidmore: The Trailblazing Journalist Behind Washington’s Cherry Trees, published in 2023 by Oxford University Press.

A native of southeastern Ohio, Diana has made Washington her adopted home since moving there after college. She started her career working for the art director of National Geographic, before leaving to get a master’s in journalism at the University of Missouri. She later wrote on contract for several divisions of National Geographic.

She also worked as a writer and editor at The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the National Institutes of Health and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others. Her reporting on education, science, medical research, history and cultural topics has appeared in many print and online outlets.

Diana’s writing interests include creative nonfiction, which she studied in Johns Hopkins University’s Washington-based graduate writing program. In 2011 she was among the founding writers and editors of the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Her book was recently named a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors’ Bernard J. Brommel Award for Biography & Memoir. She earlier received a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography and the 2017 Hazel Rowley Prize from Biographers International Organization (BIO). Other honors include fellowships from Rotary International and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Diana lives with her husband in Falls Church, Va., and gives public tours as a volunteer at the Library of Congress, where she did much of the research for her book.

See a sample of Diana’s articles and other writing.

Read an Author Q&A with Diana about her new book

(for Oxford University Press, use code AAFLYG6 for 30% discount)