Bethe Dufresne


In 1961, the year the Berlin wall went up, I was a child living on a U.S. military base in Germany. My mother, like all military wives, had a bag packed in case the Russians came, and maps to France. Yet despite the specter of war, my own family life felt so secure that I could happily focus on my two great loves, riding horses and writing stories.

The one surviving story from that time was unrelentingly apocalyptic until the last sentence, which read, “And they all lived happily ever after.” Naturally I soon learned that stories often have sad endings. But my journalism career has focused on highlighting people who manage to practice hope and create beauty amidst struggle and strife.

I began as an arts writer and editor, because covering the work of artists meant I could cover the world, even while rooted in Connecticut. Every now and then, I got to traverse the globe myself.

I’ve reported from Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Panama, Kenya, and Israel and the Occupied West Bank. In between, I’ve focused on issues of race, religion, poverty and identity at home.

From 1981 to 2007, I was a reporter, editor and columnist for The Day in New London, after which I became a regular contributor to the Hartford Courant. I’ve written for the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, among other publications, and contributed frequently to Commonweal, a magazine of religion and culture based in New York City.

Journalists, like actors, tend to love piling up awards, but among the wins I am most proud of is the 2007 Spirit of Journalism Award from the New England Society of Newspaper Editors.

Today, in a change of genre but not of focus, I’m working on a book about my Southern ancestors’ roles in the Civil War and Reconstruction. The chief protagonist is my great-grandfather, a newspaper editor with a complex record on race.
I view it as a coming home, and a realization that perhaps, even throughout my travels, my real subject has always been America.