George Paul Elliott, the son of Paul R. Elliott and Nita Gregory, was born in a small town in Indiana and raised on a Southern California farm. Elliott was educated at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his B.A. in 1939 and his M.A. in 1941. That same year, he married Mary Emma Jeffries; they had one daughter, Nora Catherine. In 1947, he began his academic career with a teaching position at St. Mary’s University in California. In 1955, he joined the faculty of Cornell University, at which time he began work on the anthology Fifteen Modern American Poets. In 1957, he moved to Barnard College, where he received a Hudson Review Fellowship that allowed him to concentrate more fully on his creative interests. One year later he published his first novel, Parktilden Village.
In 1960, he was offered a position with the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. While there, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1962, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley. That same year he received a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship to the University of New Mexico. In 1963, Elliott accepted a position at Syracuse University, where he remained until his death in 1980. While at Syracuse he served as director of the graduate writing program.
Elliott is one of the most diverse American writers, known for working in almost every imaginable genre, including science fiction, fantasy, psychological realism, satire, and romance. Much of his work first appeared in such periodicals as The American Scholar, The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, and the Times Literary Supplement. Many of his lectures were collected in A Piece of Lettuce and Conversions. These essays, which range in subject from religion to politics, usually have their foundation in...
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