Patricia Mary Hampl is the daughter of Stanislaus Rudolph Hampl and Mary Teresa (Marum) Hampl. Her father, the son of Czechoslovakian immigrants, was a florist who cultivated his stock in greenhouses, where Hampl and her older brother occasionally worked, in their St. Paul, Minnesota, community. Hampl visited her paternal grandmother, who lived nearby, and read books about Czechoslovakia, inspiring her interest in her East European heritage. She attended a local Catholic girls’ school, where the mother superior composed poetry. When Hampl was a teenager, she read Katherine Mansfield’s books and realized that diaries and letters were literature. This awareness of the literary possibilities of memoirs shaped Hampl’s writing interests.
After high school graduation, Hampl enrolled in the University of Minnesota. Aspiring to become a writer, she wrote for that school’s literary magazine. Hampl completed a bachelor of arts degree in 1968. She moved to Iowa City, Iowa, for graduate school, joining the creative writing community at the University of Iowa and earning a master of fine arts degree in 1970. Hampl then lived in California, earning income from a variety of jobs. By 1973, she had returned to St. Paul, where she edited Minnesota Monthly until resigning in May, 1975, to travel to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Curious about her ancestors’ homeland, Hampl explored that city and its culture.
In 1978, Hampl began an academic career at...
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