Annie Dillard: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Annie Dillard
Born Annie Doak
April 30, 1945 (1945-04-30) (age 64)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation writer of nonfiction narratives, novelist, poet, painter
Nationality American
Period 1974–present
Genres nonfiction, fiction, nature, theology
Notable work(s) Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Holy the Firm; For the Time Being (nonfiction narratives); An American Childhood; The Maytrees (novel)
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize general nonfiction
1975 - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Official website

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, best known for her narrative nonfiction. She has also published two novels, poetry, essays, literary criticism, and a memoir. [1]


Life and career

Dillard's memoir An American Childhood described her youth in loving detail. She is the oldest of three daughters, born to affluent parents who raised her in an environment that encouraged humor, creativity, and exploration. Her mother was a non-conformist and incredibly energetic. Her father taught her everything from plumbing to economics to the intricacies of the novel On The Road. Her days were filled with piano and dance classes, rock and bug collecting, and reading books from the public library. But she was not shielded from the dark side of history and human nature, such as the horrors of war in the 20th century, which she often read about.

Dillard attended the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, which her parents did not attend.[2] She also spent 4 summers at FPC (First Presbyterian Church) Camp, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.[3] During her rebellious teenage years, she quit church because of the "hypocrisy." When she told her minister of her decision, he gave her a stack of books by C. S. Lewis, which eventually put an end to her rebellion. After her college years, Dillard became, as she says, "spiritually promiscuous," incorporating the ideas of many religious systems into her own religious understanding. Not only are there references to Christ and the Bible in her first prose book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but also to Judaism, Buddhism, Sufism, and even Eskimo spirituality. In 1988, Dillard converted to Roman Catholicism.[4]

After graduating from high school, Dillard attended Hollins College (Hollins University since 1998), in Roanoke, Virginia, where she studied literature and creative writing. She married her writing teacher, the poet R. H. W. Dillard, the person who, she says, "taught her everything she knows" about writing. In 1968 she graduated with an MA in English, after writing a thesis on Thoreau's Walden, which focused on Walden Pond as "the central image and focal point for Thoreau's narrative movement between heaven and earth." Dillard spent the first few years after graduation painting and writing, publishing several poems and short stories.

After a near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 1971, Dillard began Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She spent 8 years living near Tinker Creek, a suburban area surrounded by forests, creeks, mountains, and myriad animal life. When she wasn't reading, she spent her time outdoors walking. Dillard began to write about her experiences near the creek. She started by transposing notes from her twenty-plus-volume reading journal. It took her eight months to turn the notecards into the book. Towards the end of the eight months, she was so absorbed that she sometimes wrote for fifteen hours a day, cut off from society without interest in current events (like the Watergate scandal). The finished book brought her a Pulitzer Prize in 1975, when she was a mere 29.

She moved to Washington, as a writer in residence at Western Washington University. She married Gary Clevidence, an anthropology professor at Fairhaven College; they have a daughter, Rosie.[5] In Washington, she wrote Holy the Firm. She has also written a memoir about growing up in Pittsburgh, An American Childhood, and two novels, The Living, and The Maytrees.

She is married to the historical biographer Robert D. Richardson, who she met after sending a fan letter about his book Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind.[6] Dillard taught for a time in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. She now splits her time between Hillsborough, North Carolina and Wythe County, Virginia.[7]

Major works

  • 1974 Tickets for a Prayer Wheel ISBN 0-8195-6536-9
  • 1974 Pilgrim at Tinker Creek ISBN 0-06-095302-0
  • 1977 Holy The Firm ISBN 0-06-091543-9
  • 1982 Living By Fiction ISBN 0-06-091544-7
  • 1982 Teaching a Stone To Talk ISBN 0-06-091541-2
  • 1984 Encounters with Chinese Writers ISBN 0-8195-6156-8
  • 1987 An American Childhood ISBN 0-06-091518-8
  • 1989 The Writing Life ISBN 0-06-091988-4
  • 1992 The Living ISBN 0-06-092411-X
  • 1995 Mornings Like This: Found Poems ISBN 0-06-092725-9
  • 1999 For the Time Being ISBN 0-375-40380-9
  • 2007 The Maytrees ISBN 0-06-123953-4

Further reading

  • Johnson, Sandra Humble (1992). The Space Between: Literary Epiphany in the Work of Annie Dillard. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 9780873384469. OCLC 23254581. 
  • Parrish, Nancy C. (1998). Lee Smith, Annie Dillard, and the Hollins Group: A Genesis of Writers. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807122433. OCLC 37884725. 
  • Smith, Linda L. (1991). Annie Dillard. New York, NY: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0805776370. OCLC 23583395. 


  1. ^ Annie Dillard, Writer, Weds
  2. ^ Dillard, Annie (1987). An American Childhood. New York: Harper & Row. p. 195. ISBN 0060915188. 
  3. ^ Dillard, Annie. "Seeing" in Albanese, Catherine L.; American Spiritualiaties: A Reader; p. 440. ISBN 0253338395.
  4. ^ Smith, Pamela A. (1995). The Ecotheology of Annie Dillard: A Study in Ambivalence
  5. ^ Cantwell, Mary (April 26, 1992). "A Pilgrim's Progress". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Cantwell, Mary (April 26, 1992). "A Pilgrim's Progress". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Ballard, Sandra L.; Hudson, Patricia L. (2004). Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 179. ISBN 0813190665. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Annie Dillard (born 30 April 1945) is an American author born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her non-fiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in 1975. She has since published ten other books, her most recent, a novel, The Maytrees was released in June 2007.


Like any child, I slid into myself perfectly fitted, as a diver meets her reflection in a pool. Her fingertips enter the fingertips on the water, her wrists slide up her arms. The diver wraps herself in her reflection wholly, sealing it at the toes, and wears it as she climbs rising from the pool, and ever after. --from An American Childhood ors/annie-dillard

  • Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. When I furnished this study seven years ago, I pushed the long desk against a blank wall, so I could not see from either window. Once, fifteen years ago, I wrote in a cinder-block cell over a parking lot. It overlooked a tar-and-gravel roof. This pine shed under the trees is not quite so good as the cinder-block study, but it will do. 'The beginning of wisdom,' according to a West African proverb, 'is to get you a roof.'
  • As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
  • Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?"
Priest: "Not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"
  • Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.
  • How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
  • It could be that our faithlessness is a cowering cowardice born of our very smallness, a massive failure of imagination... If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed.
  • So this was adolescence. Is this how the people around me had died on their feet - inevitably, helplessly? Perhaps their own selves eclipsed the sun for so many years the world shriveled around them, and when at last their inescapable orbits had passed through these dark egoistic years it was too late, they had adjusted. Must I then lose the world forever, that I had so loved? Was it all, the whole bright and various planet, where I had been so ardent about finding myself alive, only a passion peculiar to children, that I would outgrow even against my will?
  • The surest sign of age is loneliness.
  • Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?
  • On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return." (Teaching a Stone to Talk, Harper & Row, 1982)
  • We sleep to time's hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of time uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it's time to toss things, like our reason, and our will; then it's time to break our necks for home.
There are no events but thoughts and the heart's hard turning, the heart's slow learning where to love and whom. THe rest is merely gossip, and tales for other times. (Holy the Firm, 1977)

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address