Sandra Cisneros Additional Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

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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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago on December 20, 1954, to upholsterer Alfredo Cisneros, a man she would later describe as both hardworking and generous, and Elvira Cordero Cisneros, one of Sandra’s primary sources of encouragement and nurturing. As the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children, she found that her mother and the rest of her family had very different ideas about what kind of woman she should be, whether independent or traditional. Trying to please both of her parents required Cisneros to stay modest and shy as a child while seeking literary ways of expressing herself. Writing down her thoughts and feelings led naturally to her position as editor of her high school’s literary magazine, but such writing alone could not fulfill her dreams of escaping the restrictions of her youth.

After she finished high school, Cisneros decided to study at Loyola University of Chicago; she graduated from the university with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1976. Guided by her goal of becoming a teacher of creative writing, Cisneros then pursued a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa. During a session at the university’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop, when the class was discussing the metaphor of a house in philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s La Poétique de l’espace (1957; The Poetics of Space, 1964), Cisneros was struck by how different she was from her privileged classmates. Aside from the fact that she was the only Latina in the group, Cisneros found that her experiences were distinctly outside the constraints of the dominant American culture. She then saw her destiny clearly—to write texts that celebrate what it means to be a Chicana, a Latina, and a southwestern woman.

Cisneros graduated from the University of Iowa with an M.F.A. in 1978. Bad Boys, a chapbook of poetry, quickly followed her emergence. She received a National Endowment of the Arts grant in 1982, which allowed her time to write more extensively, and her seminal work, The House on Mango Street, was published in 1984 to literary acclaim; the book has sold more than two million copies since then. Her second work of long fiction, the novel Caramelo, published in 2002, would also follow the same theme of finding oneself in the context of one’s heritage.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sandra Cisneros (sihz-NAY-rohs) was born in Chicago in 1954 to a Mexican father and a Mexican American mother. She grew up in a working-class family with six brothers; her family expected her to follow the traditional female role. Her lonely childhood growing up with six males and the family’s constant moving contributed to her becoming a writer. The family moved frequently—from house to house and from Chicago to Mexico City—which caused constant upheavals. She felt trapped between the American and the Mexican cultures, not belonging in either one. Understandably, Cisneros withdrew into a world of books. The family finally settled down in a Puerto Rican neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. This setting provided Cisneros...

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(Novels for Students)

The experiences of Esperanza, the adolescent protagonist of The House on Mango Street, closely resemble those of Sandra Cisneros's...

(The entire section is 571 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Born in Chicago in 1954, Sandra Cisneros grew up with her Mexican father, Mexican-American mother, and six brothers. Her family moved back...

(The entire section is 304 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Sandra Cisneros was born on December 20, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of a Mexican father and Mexican-American mother. She was...

(The entire section is 332 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Sandra Cisneros was born December 20, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of a Mexican father and Mexican American mother. She was the...

(The entire section is 400 words.)