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Annie Dillard

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Annie Dillard
Born Annie Doak
April 30, 1945 (1945-04-30) (age 71)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation writer of nonfiction narratives, novelist, poet, painter
Nationality American
Writing period 1974–present
Genres nonfiction, fiction, nature, theology
Notable work(s) Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Holy the Firm; For the Time Being (nonfiction narratives); An American Childhood; The Maytrees (novel)
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize general nonfiction
1975 - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Official website

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, best known for her narrative nonfiction. She has also published two novels, poetry, essays, literary criticism, and memoir. [1]

Life and career

Dillard's memoir An American Childhood described her youth in loving detail. She is the oldest of three daughters, born to affluent parents who raised her in an environment that encouraged humor, creativity, and exploration. Her mother was a non-conformist and incredibly energetic. Her father taught her everything from plumbing to economics to the intricacies of the novel On The Road. Her days were filled with piano and dance classes, rock and bug collecting, and reading books from the public library. But she was not shielded from the dark side of history and human nature, such as the horrors of war in the 20th century, which she often read about.

Dillard attended the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, which her parents did not attend.[2]She also spent 4 summers at FPC (First Presbyterian Church) Camp, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.[3] During her rebellious teenage years, she quit church because of the "hypocrisy." When she told her minister of her decision, he gave her a stack of books by C. S. Lewis, which eventually put an end to her rebellion. After her college years, Dillard became, as she says, "spiritually promiscuous," incorporating the ideas of many religious systems into her own religious understanding. Not only are there references to Christ and the Bible in her first prose book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but also to Judaism, Buddhism, Sufism, and even Eskimo spirituality. In the 1990s, Dillard converted briefly to Roman Catholicism.

After graduating from high school, Dillard attended Hollins College (Hollins University since 1998), in Roanoke, Virginia, where she studied literature and creative writing. She married her writing teacher, the poet R. H. W. Dillard, the person who, she says, "taught her everything she knows" about writing. In 1968 she graduated with an MA in English, after writing a thesis on Thoreau's Walden, which focused on Walden Pond as "the central image and focal point for Thoreau's narrative movement between heaven and earth." Dillard spent the first few years after graduation painting and writing, publishing several poems and short stories.

After a near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 1971, Dillard began Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She spent 8 years living near Tinker Creek, a suburban area surrounded by forests, creeks, mountains, and myriad animal life. When she wasn't reading, she spent her time outdoors walking. Dillard began to write about her experiences near the creek. She started by transposing notes from her twenty-plus-volume reading journal. It took her eight months to turn the notecards into the book. Towards the end of the eight months, she was so absorbed that she sometimes wrote for fifteen hours a day, cut off from society without interest in current events (like the Watergate scandal). The finished book brought her a Pulitzer Prize in 1975, when she was a mere 29.

She moved to Washington, as a writer in residence at Western Washington University. She married Gary Clevidence, an anthropology professor at Fairhaven College; they have a daughter, Rosie.[4] In Washington, she wrote Holy the Firm. She has also written a memoir about growing up in Pittsburgh, An American Childhood, and two novels, The Living, and The Maytrees.

She is married to the historical biographer Robert D. Richardson, who she met after sending a fan letter about his book Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind.[5] Dillard taught for a time in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. She now splits her time between Hillsborough, North Carolina and Wythe County, Virginia.[6]

Major works

Further reading

  • Johnson, Sandra Humble (1992). The Space Between: Literary Epiphany in the Work of Annie Dillard. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 9780873384469. OCLC 23254581. 
  • Parrish, Nancy C. (1998). Lee Smith, Annie Dillard, and the Hollins Group: A Genesis of Writers. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807122433. OCLC 37884725. 

References

  1. Annie Dillard, Writer, Weds
  2. Dillard, Annie (1987). An American Childhood. New York: Harper & Row. p. 195. ISBN 0060915188. 
  3. Dilard, Annie "Seeing" in Albanese, Catherine L.; American Spiritualiaties: A Reader; p. 440. ISBN 0253338395.
  4. MARY CANTWELL (April 26, 1992). "A Pilgrim's Progress". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard-pilgrim.html. 
  5. MARY CANTWELL (April 26, 1992). "A Pilgrim's Progress". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard-pilgrim.html. 
  6. Ballard, Sandra L.; Hudson, Patricia L. (2004). Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 179. ISBN 0813190665. 

External links

et:Annie Dillardsv:Annie Dillard

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