Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 384
Sue Monk Kidd was born on August 12, 1948, and raised in the small town of Sylvester in southwestern Georgia. Her love of stories and writing developed early, inspired by her father's storytelling and the encouragement of English teachers. During adolescence, she wrote her first stories and kept a journal, but she set aside writing to study nursing at Texas Christian University. She graduated in 1970 and worked for most of the next decade as a registered nurse and as a college instructor. During this time she married Sanford Kidd, a theology student, and had two children, Bob and Ann.
Kidd rediscovered her interest in writing while living in Anderson, South Carolina, in the 1980s. She took writing courses at the local college where her husband was teaching. A personal essay that she wrote for class was accepted by Guideposts magazine and reprinted in Reader's Digest. She soon became a successful freelancer, publishing several hundred articles of personal, inspirational nonfiction in publications such as Guideposts and serving as a contributing editor to that magazine.
Kidd began publishing full-length works in the style of a spiritual memoir in 1988. In God's Joyful Surprise, she describes the process by which she came to embrace contemplative Christianity and converted from Southern Baptism to the Episcopal Church. A second volume of memoir, When the Heart Waits, was published in 1990, and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which reflected Kidd's growing interest in feminist theology, followed in 1996.
The next year Kidd began writing The Secret Life of Bees, which was published by Viking in 2002. The novel was phenomenally successful: it spent eighty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold more than three million copies, and has been translated into twenty languages. It has become a favorite of book clubs since its publication, most notably the club sponsored by the ABC network morning program Good Morning America. The Secret Life of Bees also earned Kidd the recognition of her peers: it was awarded the BookSense paper-back book of the year in 2004 and was nominated for the British Orange Prize.
Kidd published a second novel, The Mermaid Chair, to positive reviews in 2005. As of 2005, she and her husband were living in Charleston, South Carolina, where she was writer in residence at the Phoebe Pember House and an adviser to Poets & Writers, Inc.
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