Susan’s most recent book for Norton, The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople (2013), is the third in a multi-volume series providing a narrative world history; the first volume, The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome, was published in 2007, and the second, The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade was published in 2010. Her previous books include the academic title The Art of the Public Grovel: Sexual Sin and Confession in America (2008), published by Princeton University Press, and The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had , a guide to reading the classic works of fiction, poetry, history, autobiography, and drama (Norton, 2003). Norton also published The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (with co-author Jessie Wise); originally published in 1999, this bestselling guide to education in the classical tradition was revised and updated in 2004 and again in 2009. Susan has written a four-volume world history series for children, The Story of the World, published by Peace Hill Press (Volume 1, Ancient Times; Volume 2, The Middle Ages; Volume 3, Early Modern Times; and Volume 4, The Modern Age). She is currently at work on The Complete Writer, a K-12 writing program for home educators and private schools. Susan is also a contributing editor of Books & Culture and teaches writing classes at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.
Susan’s parents taught her at home for most of elementary and middle school, and all of high school; she entered college at seventeen as a Presidential Scholar and National Merit finalist, and finished her B.A. in five semesters with a major in English, a minor in Greek and a summer spent studying twentieth century theology as a Visiting Student at Oxford. She went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where she added Hebrew and Aramaic to her languages. In 1994, she also completed the M.A. in English language and literature at the College of William and Mary in Virginia; her concentrations were in translation theory, seventeenth-century devotional poetry, and Psalm paraphrase in the Tudor period. Since 1994, Susan has taught writing and American literature at William & Mary, where she also received her Ph.D. in American Studies, with a major field in the history of American religion.
Susan was born in 1968, grew up in Virginia, and was educated at home by pioneering parents, back when home education was still unheard of. She learned Latin at age ten, worked as a professional musician while still in high school, and wrote three (unpublished!) novels before she turned sixteen. Since then, she has toured with a travelling drama group; galloped racehorses at a Virginia racetrack for spending money; taught horseback riding; worked in ghostwriting and newspaper ad sales; learned enough Korean to teach a Korean four-year-old Sunday school; and served as librarian and reading tutor for the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center in Williamsburg. Currently she runs Peace Hill Press, writes in a restored chicken shed, lectures on writing and history, helps run the farm, and cooks huge meals on a regular basis. Susan and her husband now live in rural Virginia, where Peter serves as the minister of a nondenominational church. They have three sons and a daughter; three dogs; four horses; a donkey; seven sheep; four goats; three cats; and a variable number of chickens.
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