‘Late Starter’ Writes On Telecommunications, Famous Women

Seeking a wedding ring, Irish-Italian journalist happens upon a thriving literary career and becomes a Lady

Maddox has written many books about women—some famous, some lost in history—such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rosalind Franklin, and the wives of James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence.

Levine praises Maddox for her biographical skills.

“She has a talent for making peoples’ lives come alive, she makes them almost novelistic. Brenda is really interested in people, and she really wants to probe to get the essences of people,” says Levine.

At The Economist, she focused on telecommunications, writing about three or four articles a week, “because I was a working mother and no one else wanted to do it,” she says.

Although at first undesirable, with the rise of technology and cable television, telecommunications turned out to be a topic of international attention, and The Economist soon began sending Maddox on trips to Washington, D.C. to cover federal telecommunications legislation.


Maddox’s first book Beyond Babel: New Directions in Communications was based on articles she wrote on telecommunications for The Economist.

Writing seems to run in her family.

Maddox has two children, both of whom are also writers: a daughter, Bronwen, who went to Oxford and is now a foreign editor of the Times, and Bruno, who graduated from Harvard in 1992 and is now a novelist.

Maddox concedes that although her father was a doctor and her mother was a square dance caller, “everyone in the family has always had a great knack for telling a good narrative line.”

She says that she hopes to continue to write, “shaping the future, and seeing how the future is shaped.”

“I’m very market-oriented,” Maddox says. “I’ll find something that interests me and that interests people soon.”

—Staff writer Lauren A.E. Schuker can be reached at