Since the early 1970s, Sheehy has been writing about life stages of generations. 

About Gail

Gail writing  Passages

Gail writing Passages

Gail Sheehy is an icon of American journalism, the author of 17 books, and a groundbreaking pioneer for women. Her landmark work, Passages, was named by the Library of Congress “one of the ten most influential books of our time.” She has appeared four times on the NYTimes bestseller list.

As a literary journalist, Sheehy was an original contributor to New York magazine and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984. While pursuing a master’s degree fellowship at Columbia University, she was mentored by the pioneer anthropologist, Margaret Mead. Ever since, she has followed Dr. Mead’s method for recognizing major cultural shocks. That led her to follow Sen. Robert Kennedy until the night before he was killed. She spent 10 years following Hillary Clinton for Vanity Fair from First Lady to two-time presidential candidate. Also for VF, she crossed behind the Iron Curtain into Gorbachev’s Soviet Union to write the first cover story ever obtained about the life and loves of a Soviet premier.  

Gail and Hillary

Gail and Hillary

She broke the taboo around uttering the word “menopause” with her cover story on The Silent Passage. When she heard about an invasion of Charlottesville by white supremacists, Sheehy was there for New York to record the tragic death of Heather Heyer, and the impact on her friends, family, and the country.

Tina Brown, Gail’s editor, writes about her method in the book, The Vanity Fair Diaries. “Gail Sheehy’s explosive piece about Gary Hart is Gail at her best. She’s gone deep into Hart’s early life, talking to his sister, schoolmates, campaign aides, re-creating his repressed childhood in a fundamentalist family that then gave way to a rebellion that pushed him to its farthest extremes. We’ve called it The Road to Bimini and it’s shit hot.”

Sheehy is a seven-time recipient of the New York Newswomen's Club Front Page Award for Distinguished Journalism and three-time winner or finalist for National Magazine Awards. In 2013, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Books for a Better Life; and in 2017 a Lifetime Achievement Award by East Hampton’s Guild Hall.

Gail conducting interviews for her upcoming book

Gail conducting interviews for her upcoming book

She has been awarded two honorary doctorates as well as a presidential citation from the American Psychological Association. Her most recent book is DARING: My Passages, published by HarperCollins. It inspires young women to dream big, take risks, outlive early failures, and build toward success with meaning and social purpose by midlife. For her book-in-progress, Gail is assisted by two millennial journalists— Miranda Carney and Erika Lewy.

Reviews for DARING: My Passages

Ardent, approachable, forthright, and empathetic, Sheehy’s memoir of a life lived in the center of her time’s most defining moments beside its most influential characters is a riveting account of one woman’s exhilarating trajectory, a page-turning, powerhouse testament to resilience, perseverance, and hope.
— Booklist
Gail Sheehy dares to examine her own passages with the same insight, fearlessness, and compassion she brought to her groundbreaking journalism. Through adversities and triumphs alike, she demonstrates the grit and courage it takes to outlast life’s challenges.
— Arianna Huffington, author and former president of Huffington Post

Speaking Reviews

We have received such positive feedback on your presentation and your energy, insight and words of wisdom was an inspiration to all who attended.
— Johanna Bond, Vice-President, Middlesex Chamber's 2015 Women in Business Leadership event
Gail Sheehy is one of the best and most engaging speakers I have had the privilege of hearing at the Library! She is an incredible woman and all said they could have listened to her for another hour!!! Her presentation was a show stopper.
— Jocelyn Glatthorn, Community Engagement Librarian, New Canaan Library

Gail Sheehy’s books

  • Speed is of the Essence (1971)

  • Panthermania: The Clash of Black Against Black in One American City (1971)

  • Hustling: Prostitution in Our Wide Open Society (1973)

  • Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life (1976)

  • Pathfinders: Overcoming the Crises of Adult Life (1983)

  • Spirit of Survival (1987)

  • Character: America's Search for Leadership (1991)

  • The Man Who Changed the World: The Lives of Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1991)

  • The Silent Passage: Menopause (1993)

  • New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time (1995)

  • Understanding Men's Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men's Lives (1998)

  • Hillary's Choice (1999)

  • Middletown, America: One Town's Passage from Trauma to Hope (2003)

  • Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life (2007)

  • Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence (2010)

  • DARING: My Passages: A Memoir (2014)