About Jean Zimmerman


portrait small jpegAn arborist as well as an author, Jean Zimmerman is a New York-based writer who has made the history of Manhattan a central focus of both her fiction and nonfiction.

Zimmerman is a Consulting and Commercial Arborist for SavATree, the third largest tree services company in the country. Operating out of the Lower Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York City, Zimmerman has worked to help municipalities and corporate entities manage their tree populations effectively. Prior to working at SavATree Zimmerman held a  Business Developer position at Davey Resource group, and before that she was employed at Landform, LLC, inspecting trees at construction sites in New York City’s five boroughs and ensuring that city tree regulations were met. She is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist #NY-6012A.

An accomplished communicator as well as an urban arborist, Zimmerman has published numerous works of fiction and nonfiction focusing on the history of New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, with an emphasis on the changing role of women. She has appeared on national television as well as public radio to promote her work, and has spoken widely in front of  diverse audiences at historic sites, libraries, museums, book clubs and other venues. She is a regular reviewer for NPR Books and The New York Time Book Review, and writes for City Trees, the bimonthly publication of the Society of Municipal Arborists, among other publications.

Her most recent novel is Savage Girl (Viking, 2014), a mystery with a twist of fable about a “feral child” who gets transformed Pygmalion style into a Gilded Age debutante.

In her debut novel The Orphanmaster (Viking, 2012) she told the story of a beautiful, determined female trader in 1663 New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony at the foot of Manhattan Island, who sees orphans go missing and decides to catch the killer before it’s too late. A love story wrapped around a murder mystery, The Orphanmaster draws on Zimmerman’s copious research into the history of early Manhattan.

Her previous work, Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance (Harcourt, 2012), is a history that focuses on the lives of the great chronicler of New York City, I.N. Phelps Stokes, and his iconic wife Edith—preservationists, philanthropists, and denizens of Gilded Age Manhattan.

Before that, her book The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune and a Dynasty was an Original Voices Selection, Borders, 2006, and Washington Irving Book Selection, Westchester Library Association, 2007.

Previous works include Made From Scratch, which focuses on heroic housewives, Raising Our Athletic Daughters, about girls, sports and self esteem, and Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, whose theme is the crucial link between war fighting and equality for women in the U.S. Navy.

An honors graduate of Barnard College, Jean Zimmerman earned an MFA in writing from the Columbia University School of the Arts.

She lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.