About Marjorie Williams
Marjorie Williams (January 13, 1958 – January 16, 2005) was a writer, reporter, and columnist for Vanity Fair and The Washington Post, writing about American society and profiling the American "political elite."
Williams was born in Princeton, New Jersey to a scientist-turned-homemaker mother and a father who was an editorial director at Viking Press.
After attending Harvard for two years, Williams dropped out in her junior year and moved to New York to work in publishing. Williams had a flair for the business but preferred to go into journalism, and in 1986 she got a job as an editor for The Washington Post.
A year later she became a reporter for the paper's "Style" section. Williams' deft political profiles were an immediate success and eventually she branched out to Vanity Fair, covering everyone from Bill Clinton to Barbara Bush to Colin Powell as well as penning profiles of her own struggles and foibles. In 2000 she became an op-ed columnist for the Post. A year and a half later, she was diagnosed with liver cancer; in spite of being told she only had a few months left, Williams lived for more than three years. Her final Post column, written in November 2004, focused on her young daughter's Halloween costume. In June 2011 the National Society of Newspaper Columnists named it one of the top 15 newspaper columns in American history.
Williams died on January 16, 2005, three days after her 47th birthday. She is survived by her stepmother, three sisters, her husband Timothy Noah (of The New Republic magazine), and her two children. Her ashes were buried in Rock Creek Cemetery near the Adams Memorial.
In November 2005 a posthumous collection of Williams's writings, edited by her husband, was published under the title, The Woman at the Washington Zoo. The book won PEN American Center's Martha Albrand Award For First Nonfiction and a National Magazine Award in the category of essays and criticism. The latter was for a previously-unpublished essay in the book about Williams' experiences as a cancer patient, a shorter version of which appeared in Vanity Fair prior to the book's publication. A second anthology, Reputation: Portraits in Power was published in October 2008.