Andrea Barrett Biography


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Andrea Barrett grew up on Cape Cod; her father was a ski racer and later a ski patrolman. Uncertain about a chosen career, she was in and out of graduate school in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, doing advanced study first in zoology and then in medieval and reformation history. She held a number of low-paying jobs—receptionist, billing clerk, customer service representative, greenhouse technician, clerk, secretary, and research assistant—and in the late 1980’s, she did freelance medical editing, book reviewing, and teaching. She has said she learned a great deal of biology and medicine from several of these jobs, which she has used in her fiction.

Barrett has said that she shifted from science to writing because she realized while in graduate school that what she had was a passion for the passion of science; she says that it took her many years to realize that what she mistook for her own obsessions with science were, in fact, other people’s obsessions. Although she devotes most of her time to research and writing, she has been a faculty member at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and has taught regularly in the M.F.A. program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where she was living in 2000 with her husband, a biologist.


(Short Stories for Students)

Andrea Barrett Published by Gale Cengage

Andrea Barrett was born on November 16, 1954, in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Walter Barrett and Jacquelyn Knifong. She grew up on Cape Cod, within walking distance of the ocean and always had a love of the sea.

Barrett did not finish her high school education. In the fall of her junior year, she started applying to colleges, and she left high school at the end of her junior year. She was accepted by Union College in Schenectady, New York, without a high school diploma. Barrett graduated from Union College with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.

Barrett planned to become a biologist and enrolled in graduate studies in zoology at the University of Massachusetts. But she dropped out during the first semester. Later, she took graduate classes in medieval and Reformation theological history.

It was not until after her formal studies that Barrett started writing. She did not attend any writing school but taught herself how to write fiction through trial-and-error.

Barrett's first novel was Lucid Stars (1988), in which she tells the story of the breakup of an American family over a period of twenty years. In her second novel, Secret Harmonies (1989), Barrett tells the story of a family in rural western Massachusetts struggling to make sense of their lives.

In The Middle Kingdom (1991), Barrett's third novel, an unhappily married American woman on a 1986 visit to Beijing with...

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