Richard Ford was born February 16, 1944, in Jackson, Mississippi, shortly after his parents, Parker Carrol Ford and Edna Akin Ford, moved there from Arkansas. By the time Ford graduated from high school, his father had died suddenly of a heart attack, and his mother decided to return with her son to Arkansas. The conditions of his youth—growing up in the Deep South as an only child, living alone with his widowed mother—contributed much to the tone and content of the fiction he was to write in later years. His essay “My Mother, in Memory” (1987), reflects on the events of his early years and on the influence of his relationship with his parents.
After Ford received his B.A. in 1966 from Michigan State University, he worked for a year as a writer for a sports magazine, an occupation that was to influence his novel The Sportswriter (1986). It was two years after his graduation that he determined to abandon his intention to be a lawyer and to become a writer instead. The same year, he married Kristina Hensley, a fellow student at Michigan State who subsequently became a professor of urban affairs and political science as well as a planner for several American cities. In 1970, Ford earned an M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine, where he studied creative writing with novelists Oakley Hall and E. L. Doctorow. He taught for one year at the University of Michigan before the publication of A Piece of My Heart (1976), his...
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