One time teacher and high school administrator Charles J. Shields graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana with dual degrees in American history and English, fitting for a man would devote his talents to becoming a full-time biographer in 1997. By 2004, he had published 20 histories and biographies aimed at youth, including biographies about author Amy Tan, Martha Stewart, and Buffalo Bill Cody, among others. His histories were written on topics including the World Trade Center Bombing and the Great Fire of London. In 2006, he published Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee for an adult audience. The book became a New York Times bestseller. He soon published I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee, which was also met with high praise and acclaim. In addition, Shields has published Imagine: The Story of a Song about John Lennon.
In 2009, Charles J. Shields co-founded BIO, the Biographers International Organization, a non-profit aimed at promoting the “art and craft of biography.”
Most recently, he has published And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life. It has also been announced that Shields will author a biography of John Williams, an author with such titles to his credit as Stoner and Augustus.