Jayne Anne Phillips was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia, a pleasant middle-class town, on July 19, 1952, the middle child, between brothers, of Russell R. Phillips, a contractor, and Martha Jane Thornhill, a teacher. Phillips attended West Virginia University, where she earned a B.A. degree, and graduated in 1974 magna cum laude. Four years later, she earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa’s renowned writer’s program. Phillips taught briefly at Humboldt State University and then held the Fanny Howe Chair of Letters at Brandeis University and the post of adjunct associate professor of English at Boston University. In 1985, she married Mark Brian Stockman, a physician.
Phillips began writing poetry in high school. Her childhood ended abruptly in the early 1970’s, when her parents were divorced and she moved away from her hometown to begin college nearby. Her poetry was published while she still attended the University of West Virginia as an undergraduate. Only after graduation did she begin writing fiction, creating highly compressed stories in which her poetic discipline shone through. Phillips has continued in this vein, using carefully chosen words and images to their potential. She has tended to write not from an outline, as novelists often do, but line by line, as do poets.
In 1978, Phillips made the most of an opportunity when she gave Delacorte editor Seymour Lawrence a copy of Sweethearts...
(The entire section is 574 words.)