Lee Kittredge Abbott was born in the Panama Canal Zone on October 17, 1947, to a military father and an alcoholic mother, whom he has fictionalized in such stories as “The End of Grief” and “Time and Fear and Somehow Love.” He received his bachelor’s degree in English from New Mexico State University in 1970. He married Pamela Jo Dennis in 1969, after which he and his new wife moved to New York City, where he attended Columbia University. He returned to New Mexico State University, where he received an M.A. degree in English in 1973. He went on to earn an M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas in 1977.
Abbott published a number of stories in various literary magazines while working on his M.A. and M.F.A. After accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, he published his first collection of stories, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting. In 1990, Abbott began teaching writing as a professor at Ohio State University. He has held visiting professor positions at Wichita State University, Southwest Texas State University, and Yale University. He has also taught writing at Rice University, Colorado College, and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.