Geraldine Brooks was born in 1955 and grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. She attended the University of Sydney and later worked as a reporter for the local newspaper. In 1982, she went to New York, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. It was also at Columbia that Brooks met her future husband, Tony Horwitz.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks worked for the Wall Street Journal as a foreign correspondent, reporting from the Middle East, Somalia, and the Balkans. These were all hot spots at the time, so Brooks literally learned her craft under fire.
After marrying, Brooks and her husband (also a Pulitzer Prize–winning author) traveled around Europe. While in England, they came upon the old village of Eyam, whose history with the black plague inspired Brooks’s first novel, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. In this novel, Brooks turns back to the year 1666 to tell the story of Anna Frith, a woman who tries to save her village. The story details the effects of the plague on Frith’s family, her village, and herself.
In 2006, Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for her second novel, March, which continues the story of the missing father of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women. Most critics believe this to be Brooks’s best work.
Besides writing fiction, Brooks also has compiled two nonfiction books. The first was Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women (1994). She also wrote a memoir, published in 1997, Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal’s Journey from Down Under to All Over. This work won the Nita B. Kibble award. As a child, Brooks wrote to many pen pals from around the world. This memoir covers the search she undertook as an adult to find these pen pals.
Brooks and her husband have one child and split their time between two homes, one in Martha’s Vineyard and one in Sydney, Australia.