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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Barbara Kingsolver treats her characters with respect and compassion. Her fictional characters live true to their convictions and trust their inner sense of what is right, creating interesting tensions in each novel or story. One cannot read Kingsolver’s works without questioning what is just, as her vision includes the world’s joys and its injustices. Whether the problems involve the pollution of a site by a corporation (Animal Dreams), issues of religious and international power (The Poisonwood Bible), or family entitlement (Prodigal Summer), all trails of thought lead to dilemmas that face any responsible, caring citizen of the world.
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Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Maryland, on April 8, 1955. Her childhood was spent mostly in eastern Kentucky’s rural Nicholas County. She began writing before she entered high school. In 1977 she earned her undergraduate degree magna cum laude in biology from DePauw University in Indiana. Work toward her master’s of science degree at the University of Arizona at Tucson included a creative writing class. Between her stints as a student, she lived for a time in Greece and France. After completing her master’s degree, she worked as a science writer for the University of Arizona and began to write feature articles, which have appeared in national publications such as Smithsonian, Harper’s, and...
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Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1955. Her childhood was spent mostly in eastern Kentucky’s rural Nicholas County. She began writing before she entered high school. In 1977, she earned an undergraduate degree in biology, magna cum laude, from De Pauw University in Indiana. Work toward her master of science degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson (1981) included a creative writing class. After completing her master’s degree she worked as a science writer for the University of Arizona and began to write feature articles on the side, which appeared in publications such as Smithsonian, Harpers, and The New York Times.
In 1985, Kingsolver married Joseph Hoffman. She...
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