Sandra Cisneros was born December 20, 1954, in Chicago, to a Mexican father and a Mexican American mother. The only daughter in a family of seven children, she grew up speaking both English and Spanish. Her family frequently traveled to Mexico for extended visits with her paternal grandparents. Although her grandparents were wealthy, Cisneros’s immediate family was very poor, living in small, rundown apartments in poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Chicago. She received her early education in Roman Catholic schools, but her talents and intelligence were not reflected in the grades on her early report cards.
In 1966, when Cisneros was twelve, her family purchased a house. Though the house was small and unimpressive, Cisneros had her own room, affording her privacy to read. Cisneros’s mother, a voracious reader herself, exempted her from domestic responsibilities so that she would have time to read. One of Cisnero’s favorite childhood books was The Little House (1942), by Virginia Lee Burton.
In high school, Cisneros began writing and decided to major in English in college. She attended Loyola University in Chicago, where her father expected her to find a husband. As a junior, in 1974, she enrolled in her first writing workshop. In 1976, she began work at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Though she received an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1978, she was not happy during her time at the Iowa workshop. As a Mexican...
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