Robert Lowell Coover was born in Charles City, Iowa, on February 4, 1932. His family later moved to Indiana and then to Herrin, Illinois, where his father, Grant Marion Coover, managed the town newspaper. (Both the newspaper and a local mining disaster figure prominently in Coover’s first novel.) Small-town life as the son of a newspaperman gave Coover both an interest in journalism and a desire to travel. After beginning his college education at nearby Southern Illinois University(1949-1951), he transferred to Indiana University, where he received a B.A. in 1953, at which time he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, where he attained the rank of lieutenant. While serving in Europe, he met Marie del Pilar San-Mallafre, whom he married on June 13, 1959.
Coover’s serious interest in fiction dates from the period immediately prior to his marriage, and his novel writing followed the favorable response to his first published story, “Blackdamp” (1961), which he reworked and expanded into The Origin of the Brunists. Unable to make a living as a fiction writer, Coover left Spain, his wife’s native country, and began teaching in the United States; he held positions at Bard College (1966-1967), the University of Iowa (1967-1969), Columbia University (1972), Princeton University (1972-1973), and Virginia Military Institute (1976), and has served as writer-in-residence at Wisconsin State University-Superior (1968) and Washington University (1969). Since 1979, he has taught at Brown University....
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