Born in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 8, 1955, Barbara Kingsolver grew up in Kentucky. Her father, Wendell, was a physician, and her mother, Virginia, was a homemaker. Kingsolver, who has kept a journal of personal revelations since the age of eight, learned a sense of community in small-town Kentucky. Community, to her, meant a place where people “grow their own food and know who they could depend on for help.” She writes about community in all of her stories, but she discovered that the reality of community is relatively rare in other parts of the United States. Part of her heritage is Cherokee, and her stories include American Indian characters, history, and issues. She discovered that the community so important to her is fundamental to most American Indian cultures.
After leaving Kentucky for college, Kingsolver deliberately lost her “hillbilly” accent, which prompted ridicule wherever she went. “People made terrible fun of me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up slowly and became something else. It was later in life, about ten years later, that it occurred to me this language was a precious and valuable thing.”
Kingsolver earned a B.A. magna cum laude in biology from De Pauw University (1977) and an M.S. in biology from the University of Arizona (1981); she has completed additional graduate study. Her university studies began with a piano scholarship, but she switched to biology because it was more practical. She has always written, everything from childhood journals to scientific and technical writing after college. Kingsolver’s jobs have included research assistant in the department of physiology at the University of Tucson (1977-1979), technical writer in the Office of Arid Lands Studies (1981-1985), and freelance journalist...
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