Diana Pabst Parsell is a writer, editor and former journalist now working on the first biography of 19th-century American trailblazer Eliza Scidmore. Like the subject of her book, Diana is a native of the Midwest who made Washington, D.C., her adopted home.
Other parallels between author and subject: working for National Geographic and extensive travel in Southeast Asia. Diana began her career in the magazine’s editorial layout department before attending grad school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. She returned later as a contract writer for several divisions of National Geographic.
Diana has also worked as a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a copy editor for The Washington Post and many freelance clients. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of outlets, such as National Geographic News, Smithsonian.com, Humanities, Science News, Ford Foundation Report, Washingtonian, Trustee Quarterly, The New Physician, Potomac Review and Washington Independent Review of Books. (See publication samples.)
After living in Jakarta with her husband for two years, Diana traveled regularly to Southeast Asia for a decade as a science writer and editorial consultant for two World Bank-supported research centers. She stumbled onto the subject of her book through Eliza Scidmore’s 1897 travelogue Java, the Garden of the East.
Diana received two awards to support her book in progress: the 2012 Mayborn Fellowship in Biography, sponsored by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McGrath Morris, and in 2017 the Hazel Rowley Prize from Biographers International Organization. She has also received fellowships from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and Rotary International; was named an outstanding graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s master of arts in writing program; and had a residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
A skilled speaker, Diana lectures on her book to diverse audiences and gives public tours at the Library of Congress as a volunteer docent.
She lives with her husband, Bruce, in Falls Church, Va.
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”