Of Scottish and Greek ancestry, Marianne Wiggins was born to John Wiggins and Mary Klonis. Her father was a grocer and preacher. She married Brian Porzak, a film distributor, on June 6, 1965, but divorced him in 1970. They had a daughter, Lara Porzak. Wiggins’s second marriage, to the Indian-born British writer Salman Rushdie on January 23, 1988, led to a few years of fame and controversy, not because of the marriage itself but for the religious edict issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini condemning Rushdie to death. Rushdie and Wiggins’s marriage ended in 1992.
Wiggins worked as a stockbroker in the early 1970’s. Before being known for marrying Rushdie, she had begun writing. Her first book, Babe, concerns a single mother raising a child and the challenges of single motherhood. This novel reflected Wiggins’s personal experience after her divorce, having to work and raise her daughter, Lara. Her debut was not widely reviewed.
After the novel’s publication, she and Lara lived in Martha’s Vineyard, where Wiggins wrote her next two novels, Went South and Separate Checks, and a collection of short stories titled Herself in Love. All of these deal with modern-day single women, mothers in love, and divorce. Again, some of the core issues of these works are reminiscent of Wiggins’s life circumstances. While the second novel did not receive much notice, the third book, Separate Checks, gained her considerable attention and critical acclaim.
Before experiencing the controversy surrounding Rushdie, Wiggins lived through her own cultural turmoil during her childhood in the United States. Growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she had a conservative and religious father who preached in a Protestant church (founded by her grandfather) every Sunday. At age nine, she was baptized into the Greek Orthodox religion of her mother. Her father later committed suicide. Wiggins harbored an aversion to all organized religion throughout her adulthood; these cultural concerns prevail in some of her works, in which organized religion is sometimes depicted as evil.
(The entire section is 881 words.)