After Blockbuster, Alumna, ‘Hidden Figures’ Author Signs for Two More Books

Shetterly is a 1991 graduate of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.
April 11, 2017

University of Virginia alumna Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the bestselling-book-turned-hit-film “Hidden Figures,” is continuing her mission of bringing the untold stories of African-Americans to light.

Viking Books announced Tuesday that Shetterly, whose first book, which came out last September, highlighted three African-American women who played a critical, but previously underappreciated role in John Glenn’s successful space launch, will publish two more books unearthing the stories of influential African-Americans in mid-century Baltimore.

The first book, which does not yet have a title or release date, will focus on two families: the Murphy family, who owned Baltimore’s Afro-American newspaper; and the Adams family, including Willie Adams, a philanthropist and venture capitalist who helped black businesses gain entry in Baltimore, and his wife, Victorine, the first black woman on the Baltimore city council. The subject for the second book has not been announced.

Shetterly, who lives in Charlottesville and graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce in 1991, began working on “Hidden Figures” after learning about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson from her father, a NASA scientist. Johnson, Vaughan and Jackson were “computers,” part of a group of women whose calculations ensured the success of John Glenn’s mission and propelled America in the space race. Their stories were not well known outside of NASA until Shetterly’s book and the subsequent film vaulted them into the public eye more than 50 years later. The film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, was nominated for several Academy Awards and was a global box office hit, while Shetterly’s book was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.

In a January Q&A with UVA Today, she said that she hopes her work will change people’s perceptions of what success looks like, especially in fields that have historically lacked women and minorities.

“Talent is distributed among all populations and given a chance, people can excel in these fields,” she said. “[The ‘Hidden Figures’ story] shows what we can learn from the past, in terms of opening the doors for people to excel today.”

Read more about Shetterly and her work: