Ordinary Lives: Memoirs of American Woman

Annie Dillard

An American Childhood


  • Born, 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Educated at Hollins College in Virginia.
  • Lived nearly 10 years in the Roanoke Valley, whose landscape inspired Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.


  • Generally considered an essayist and one of the premier prose stylists of her time, but has also written poetry, autobiography, fiction, and criticism.
  • Characteristic subject matter is nature and the world around her; her prose, though lucid and grounded in specificity, is sometimes lyrical and metaphorical. Sometimes compared in her early writings to Henry David Thoreau.
  • Spent many years as a Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan University
  • Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (1974) received the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

Major Writings

Essays/Nature Writing
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)
Holy the Firm (1977)
Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982)

An American Childhood (1987)

Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (1974)

Writing and Criticism
Living By Fiction (1982)
The Writing Life (1989)

The Living (1992)

Critical Sources and Reviews

  • Biographical and critical information in multiple volumes of Contemporary Authors and Contemporary Literary Criticism, including CA, 49-52; CA--New Revision Series, 3 and 43; CLC 9 and 60; and Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1980.
  • Some reviews of An American Childhood:
    • New York Times Book Review, September 27, 1987 ("Her Inexhaustible Mind" by Noel Perrin.)
    • Chicago Tribune-Books, September 13, 1987 (excerpted in CLC, 60)
    • Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 20, 1987 (excerpted in CLC, 60)

Retired Discussion Series

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