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Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker) 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. She is married to the historical biographer Robert D. Richardson, Jr.

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 Pittsburghmarker, which her parents did not attend. She also spent 4 summers at FPC (First Presbyterian Church)Camp, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. 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, Virginiamarker, 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. Her other books in this vein include Holy the Firm, Teaching a Stone to Talk, and For the Time Being. She has also written a memoir about growing up in Pittsburghmarker, An American Childhood, and two novels, The Living, and The Maytrees.

Dillard taught for a time in the English department of Wesleyan Universitymarker, in Middletown, Connecticutmarker. She now splits her time between Hillsborough, North Carolinamarker and Wythe County, Virginiamarker.

Major Works

  • 1974 Tickets for a Prayer Wheel ISBN 0-8195-6536-9
  • 1974 Pilgrim at Tinker Creek ISBN 0-06-095302-0
  • 1977 Holy The Firm ISBN 0-06-091543-9
  • 1982 Living By Fiction ISBN 0-06-091544-7
  • 1982 Teaching a Stone To Talk ISBN 0-06-091541-2
  • 1984 Encounters with Chinese Writers ISBN 0-8195-6156-8
  • 1987 An American Childhood ISBN 0-06-091518-8
  • 1989 The Writing Life ISBN 0-06-091988-4
  • 1992 The Living ISBN 0-06-092411-X
  • 1995 Mornings Like This: Found Poems ISBN 0-06-092725-9
  • 1999 For the Time Being ISBN 0-375-40380-9
  • 2007 The Maytrees ISBN 0-06-123953-4

Further reading


External links

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