Marjorie Williams was born in Princeton, N.J., in 1958 and died (of liver cancer) in Washington, D.C. in 2005. At the time of her diagnosis in 2001, Marjorie was a columnist for the Washington Post’s op-ed page, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, a regular book reviewer for Slate, and a frequent contributor to the Washington Monthly.

Marjorie began her career in journalism in 1986 as editor of the Washington Post’s Federal Page. Subsequently she became a writer for the paper’s Style section and Sunday magazine, specializing in political profiles. Marjorie left the Post for Vanity Fair in 1992, then left Vanity Fair in 2000 to write the Post column and to become a contributing editor at Talk. She returned to Vanity Fair in 2001. Over time, Marjorie’s writing shifted from features to essays focused on the topics of gender, family life, and – during the last years of her life – mortality.

Prior to becoming a journalist, Marjorie worked in book publishing as an editor at Simon & Schuster, the Literary Guild, and Harcourt Brace. She embarked on this earlier career after dropping out of Harvard. Marjorie graduated from Princeton Day School in 1975.

The Woman at the Washington Zoo won the PEN/Martha Albrand Nonfiction Award, which is granted to an author’s first work of nonfiction. Marjorie shared this award in 2006 with A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield. In addition, a shorter version of the chapter “Hit By Lightning” that appeared in Vanity Fair under the title “A Matter of Life and Death” won a National Magazine Award in 2006 in the essay category.

Marjorie is survived by her husband, Timothy Noah, a senior writer at Slate, who edited The Woman at the Washington Zoo, and by her children, Alice and Will.

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