Anne Tyler Additional Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 25, 1941, to Phyllis Mahon Tyler, a social worker, and Lloyd Parry Tyler, an industrial chemist. She was the eldest of four children, the only girl. Both of her parents were Quakers dedicated to finding an ideal community, a quest that produced the theme of frustrated idealism in Tyler’s fiction. As a consequence of her parents’ idealism, Tyler spent most of her early years, from infancy until age eleven, in various rural Quaker communes scattered throughout the midwestern and southern United States. When she was six, the family settled in Celo, North Carolina—a large, isolated, valley commune virtually independent of the outside world and unquestionably the setting for Tyler’s short story “Outside,” which appeared in the Southern Review in 1971.

Tyler later wrote of the impact of her early years on her fiction. Unable to sleep at night and needing to amuse herself, she began telling herself stories at age three. Furthermore, her isolation in the rural communes in which she lived as a child contributed to the themes of isolation and community dominant in her novels. Growing up in North Carolina, where she spent summers tying tobacco, Tyler listened carefully to the stories of the tobacco handlers and tenant farmers. Later, she was able to capture the cadences of everyday speech in her fiction, realizing that the stories these workers told could form the basis for literature. She also relied heavily on the North Carolina tobacco country as the setting for her early novels, especially The Tin Can Tree and A Slipping-Down Life.

When Tyler was eleven, she and her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they finally settled into an “ordinary” middle-class existence. There, Tyler...

(The entire section is 739 words.)


(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

0111201283-Tyler.jpg Anne Tyler (Diana Walker) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Early Life

From the age of six, Anne Tyler experienced a southern childhood: first at Celo, a wilderness community in the mountains of North Carolina, where her mother and father, Phyllis and Lloyd Tyler, joined a Quaker community; then in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she attended high school and discovered in the works of Eudora Welty that a writer may create literature from the ordinary things in life. At Duke University, she majored in Russian and studied creative writing with author Reynolds Price. She published short stories in the Archive, Duke’s literary magazine, and twice received the Anne Flexner Award for creative writing. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Tyler pursued graduate studies at Columbia University.

The 1960’s

Tyler returned to Duke in the early 1960’s to work as a Russian bibliographer in the university library. She published short fiction in popular magazines such as Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and McCall’s and in more sophisticated periodicals, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Southern Review. She won a Mademoisellemagazine award for writing in 1966, and in 1969, one of her stories appeared in Prize Stories 1969: The O. Henry Awards.

After marrying Thigh Mohammed Madeiras, an Iranian psychiatrist and writer she met at Duke, in May, 1963, Tyler moved to Montreal, Canada, and spent six months working on her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes (1964). In 1965, she gave birth to her first daughter, Tech, and published her second novel, The Tin Can Tree. In 1967, a second daughter, Metra, was born, and the family settled in Baltimore, Maryland, which became the setting for most of her subsequent fiction.

By the end of the 1960’s, Tyler had attracted both readers and critical attention. The two novels she published during the decade depict confining family situations, characters desiring their separate identities yet needing to be connected, and the circling journey narrative she continued to use in her later works. Calling herself a “southern writer,” Tyler skillfully selects details and conveys small town speech to evoke setting and character in these novels. Her mature works continue to be marked by major themes such as movement without change or change without movement and the sense of remoteness from present life that afflicts many of her characters.

Later Life

Between 1970 and 1977, Tyler published five novels. In 1977, she received the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. Her 1980 novel, Morgan’s Passing, brought wide recognition and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. For Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), she won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The Accidental Tourist (1985) received the National Book Critics Circle Award and Breathing Lessons (1988) the Pulitzer Prize. Her 1990’s novels, including the best-selling Ladder of Years (1996), feature familiar themes.


Tyler, who ignores the latest trends in writing, holds a unique place in contemporary American literature. She concentrates on...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although Anne Tyler’s books have always been popular with general readers, acclaim from critics came more slowly. With Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, however, Tyler’s position in American literature was firmly established. In addition to her many short stories and novels, Tyler is much in demand as a book reviewer. She has achieved her greatest success and recognition as a witty yet serious and compassionate observer of human nature, with a polished style, a strong sense of irony, and an uncanny ability to create memorable characters and to reproduce their speech as if she had actually heard it.

Tyler is the only daughter of Lloyd Parry and Phyllis (Mahon) Tyler; there were also four boys in the...

(The entire section is 750 words.)


(Novels for Students)

At fourteen, Tyler discovered a writer who would have a significant impact on her own literary career. While reading Eudora Welty's short...

(The entire section is 338 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Anne Tyler was born on October 25, 1941, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her father, Lloyd Parry Tyler, a chemist, and mother, Mahon Tyler, a...

(The entire section is 496 words.)


(Novels for Students)

On October, 25, 1941, Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her parents were members of the Society of Friends and liberal...

(The entire section is 254 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Anne Tyler was born on October 25, 1941, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to chemist Lloyd Parry Tyler and social worker Phyllis Mahon Tyler. The...

(The entire section is 469 words.)