Betsy Prioleau was born and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Her father was portrait artist Hugo Stevens, and her home life, full of books, art, and talkfests. She worked as a reporter on the Charlottesville Daily Progress and received a B.S. and M.A. from the University of Virginia.
After a Ph.D. in American literature at Duke University, she taught English and World Literature at Manhattan College, where she was a tenured associate professor. She was a scholar in residence at New York University, and most recently, taught cultural history in the New York University Liberal Studies Program. Besides scholarly articles, she has written for popular publications and authored four books — Diamonds and Deadlines (2022), Swoon (2013), Seductress (2003) and Circle of Eros (1983).
She lives with her husband Philip in Charleston, South Carolina and New York City, and dances with her grandchild Olivia, gardens, and swims when she’s not buried in books.