Ann Patchett’s novels have achieved both critical and commercial success. Patchett was born in Los Angeles and is the daughter of Frank Patchett, a police captain, and Jeanne Wilkinson Ray, a nurse. Her parents divorced when she was three. Her mother moved with her and her sister to Nashville, Tennessee, when Patchett was six. There, Patchett attended Catholic schools.
She entered Sarah Lawrence College in New York intending to be a poet, but while taking a fiction writing course with novelist Allan Gurganus, she realized that her true interest was in fiction. Her first short story, “All Little Colored Children Should Learn to Play the Harmonica,” was published in The Paris Review when she was twenty-one. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence with a B.A. in 1984. The following year she went to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1987, she completed her M.F.A. there.
While doing some teaching, Patchett managed for the most part to focus on her writing. She was a writer-in-residence at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania for 1988-1989 but left there when she and her husband separated after one year of marriage. They subsequently divorced. In 1989 she was a residential fellow at the Yaddo and Millay writers’ colonies. She returned to Nashville and worked as a waitress for a time. Winning the James A. Michener/Copernicus Award for a work in progress and a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, enabled her to complete The Patron Saint of Liars. In 1992, she was a visiting assistant professor at Murray State University in Kentucky. She earned a fellowship from the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College in 1993 and a Guggenheim Fellowship the following year. In 1997, she was a Tennessee Williams fellow in Creative Writing at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
In addition to her novels, Patchett published short stories in Columbia, Seventeen,...
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