Margalit Fox

Margalit Fox (born 1961) is an American writer. She began her career in publishing in the 1980s, before switching to journalism in the 1990s. She joined the obituary department of The New York Times in 2004, and authored over 1,400 obituaries before her retirement from the paper in 2018. Fox has written three non-fiction books and plans to pursue book writing full time.


Fox was born in Glen Cove, New York, the daughter of David (a physicist) and Laura Fox.[1] She attended Barnard College in New York City and then Stony Brook University, where she completed her bachelor's degree (1982) and then a master's degree in linguistics in 1983. She received a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1991.[2] Fox also studied the cello.[3]

In the 1980s, before attending journalism school, Fox worked in book and magazine publishing.[3] She joined The New York Times in 1994 as a copy editor for its Book Review.[4][5] She has written widely on language, culture and ideas for The New York Times, New York Newsday, Variety and other publications. Her work was anthologized in Best Newspaper Writing, 2005.[2][6] Fox moved to the obituary department of The New York Times in 2004.[3] There she wrote over 1,400 obituaries before retiring as a senior writer in 2018, penning an article for the paper about her own retirement. She plans to pursue book writing full-time.[5]

In 2011, The Newswomen's Club of New York awarded Fox its Front Page Award for her collection of work at The New York Times.[7] In 2014, she won Stanford University's William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for her book The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code. The New York Times also ranked the book as one of the "100 Notable Books of 2013."[6] In 2014, The Paris Review called Fox "An instrumental figure in pushing the obituary past Victorian-era formal constraints".[4] In its 2015 roundup of "Best journalism of 2015", Sports Illustrated referred to her as "The great NYT obit writer".[8] In 2016, Atlantic Monthly described her as "the finest obituarist at The New York Times".[9] Calling her "The Artist of the Obituary", Andrew Ferguson wrote in Commentary magazine: "Margalit Fox is one of those writers ... whose every paragraph carries an undercurrent of humor ... you’re never more than a few sentences away from an ironic aside or wry observation or the sudden appearance of some cockeyed fact. ... Stranger still, Fox maintains her writerly bounce despite her regular subject, which is death. ...Fox is ... the best writer all around, at the New York Times.[10]

Fox has said: "In the course of an obit, you’re charged with taking your subject from the cradle to the grave, which gives you a natural narrative arc. ... 98 percent of the obit has nothing to do with death, but with life. ... We like to say it’s the jolliest department in the paper."[4] Fox is featured in Vanessa Gould's 2016 documentary film Obit about the New York Times obituary staff.[11]

She is married to writer and critic George Robinson.[2]



  • Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind , Simon & Schuster (2007) ISBN 978-0-7432-4712-2
  • The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, Ecco Press (2013) ISBN 978-0-0622-2883-3
  • Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer, Random House (2018) ISBN 9780399589454

Notable obituaries


  1. "Fox, Margalit",
  2. "About the Author",, accessed June 16, 2013
  3. Cowen, Tyler. "Margalit Fox on Life, Death, and the Best Job in Journalism",, August 24, 2016
  4. Ronan, Alex. "The Art of the Obituary: An Interview with Margalit Fox", The Paris Review, September 23, 2014, accessed May 24, 2016
  5. Fox, Margalit. "She Knows How to Make an Exit. You’re Reading It." The New York Times, June 28, 2018
  6. Karampelas, Gabrielle. "Margalit Fox and Kiese Laymon win Stanford's 2014 Saroyan Prize for Writing", Stanford News, Stanford University, August 21, 2014
  7. "2011 Winners". Newswomen's Club of New York. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  8. Deitsch, Richard. "Best journalism of 2015; GameDay ratings soar this year and more", Sports Illustrated, December 22, 2015
  9. Meyer, Robinson. "Not Doomed Yet: Obama and China Slow Coal's Roll", Atlantic Monthly, January 20, 2016
  10. Ferguson, Andrew. "The Artist of the Obituary", Commentary, October 1, 2013, accessed May 24, 2016
  11. Dries, Kate. "'Died Is Died Is Died': Talking with Vanessa Gould and Margalit Fox of Obit", The Muse: Jezebel, April 20, 2016
  12. Fox, Margalit (September 18, 2004). "Virginia Hamilton Adair, 91, a Poet Famous Late in Life, Dies". The New York Times.
  13. Fox, Margalit (June 25, 2009). "Betty Allen, Opera Singer and Educator, Dies at 82". The New York Times.
  14. Fox, Margalit (1 January 2012). "Emmett L. Bennett Jr., Ancient Script Expert, Dies at 93". The New York Times. p. 24.
  15. Fox, Margalit (10 April 2012). "Christine Brooke-Rose, 89, Inventive Writer". The New York Times. p. 17.
  16. Fox, Margalit (May 13, 2013). "Dr. Joyce Brothers, Psychologist Who Dispensed Advice to Millions, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  17. Fox, Margalit (20 May 2007). "Robert N. Buck Dies at 93; Was Record-Setting Aviator". The New York Times. p. 28.
  18. Fox, Margalit (5 February 2002). "Robert Chapman, 81, Roget's Thesaurus Editor". The New York Times. p. 23.
  19. Fox, Margalit (13 April 2012). "Lili Chookasian, 90, Contralto Praised for Her Velvety Voice". The New York Times. p. 21.
  20. Fox, Margalit (8 December 2010). "Hugues Cuénod Dies at 108; Versatile, Light-Voiced Tenor". The New York Times. p. 20.
  21. Fox, Margalit (31 May 2012). "Leo Dillon, Celebrated Illustrator of Children's Books, Is Dead at 79". The New York Times. p. 27.
  22. Fox, Margalit (30 March 2016). "Patty Duke, Child Star and Oscar Winner, Dies at 69". The New York Times. p. 18.
  23. Fox, Margalit (29 August 2007). "John Gardner, Who Continued the James Bond Series, Dies at 80". The New York Times. p. 21.
  24. Fox, Margalit (19 January 2006). "Jim Gary, Sculptor Inspired by Junk, Dies at 66". The New York Times. p. 21.
  25. Fox, Margalit (4 February 2012). "Dorothy Gilman, 88, 'Mrs. Pollifax' Novelist". The New York Times. p. 19.
  26. Fox, Margalit (20 May 2012). "Crawford Greenewalt Jr., 74; Shed Light on an Ancient City". The New York Times. p. 22.
  27. Fox, Margalit (July 18, 2006). "Arthur Haggerty, 74, Master Dog Trainer, Dies". The New York Times.
  28. Fox, Margalit (2 August 2006). "Frederick G. Kilgour, Innovative Librarian, Dies at 92". The New York Times. p. 8.
  29. Fox, Margalit (December 19, 2015). "Kurt Masur, acclaimed international conductor, dies at 88", The Seattle Times
  30. Fox, Margalit (24 November 2011). "Anne McCaffrey, 85, Author of Fantasies". The New York Times. p. 33.
  31. Fox, Margalit (20 November 2011). "René Morel, Master Restorer Of Rare Violins, Dies at 79". The New York Times. p. 30.
  32. Fox, Margalit (February 1, 2012). "Patricia Neway, Operatic Soprano Who Won a Tony, Dies at 92". The New York Times.
  33. Fox, Margalit (25 November 2010). "Ingrid Pitt, 73, Horror Star Who Survived Nazi Horror". The New York Times. p. 37.
  34. Fox, Margalit (24 July 2002). "Chaim Potok, 73, Dies; Novelist Illumined the World of Hasidic Judaism". The New York Times. p. 17.
  35. Fox, Margalit (28 May 2010). "Anneliese Rothenberger, German Opera Singer". The New York Times. p. 21.
  36. Fox, Margalit (February 2, 2005). "Albert Schatz, Microbiologist, Dies at 84". The New York Times.
  37. Fox, Margalit (6 July 2011). "Jane Scott Is Dead at 92; Veteran Rock Music Critic". The New York Times. p. 18.
  38. Fox, Margalit (31 March 2007). "Tony Scott, Jazz Clarinetist Who Mastered Bebop, Dies at 85". The New York Times. p. 16.
  39. Fox, Margalit (18 August 2006). "Rudi Stern, Artist Whose Medium Was Light, Dies at 69". New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  40. Fox, Margalit (25 October 2011). "Swami Bhaktipada Dies at Age 74; Ex-Hare Krishna Leader and Felon". The New York Times. p. 29.
  41. Fox, Margalit (7 September 2011). "Keith Tantlinger, Builder of Cargo Container, Dies at 92". The New York Times. p. 25.
  42. Fox, Margalit (13 February 2006). "Dave Tatsuno, 92, Whose Home Movies Captured History". The New York Times. p. 21.
  43. Fox, Margalit (26 August 2006). "Marie Tharp, Oceanographic Cartographer, Dies at 86". The New York Times. p. 13.
  44. Fox, Margalit (28 March 2010). "Blanche Thebom, 94, Star At the Met and Beyond". The New York Times. p. 26.
  45. Fox, Margalit (5 October 2010). "Dolores Wilson, Met Soprano, Dies at 82". The New York Times. p. 29.
  46. Fox, Margalit (May 8, 2008). "Frances Yeend, 95, Soprano At City Opera and the Met". The New York Times.
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