Jane Smiley at the 2009 Texas Book Festival
September 26, 1949 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from Community School and from John Burroughs School. She obtained an A.B. in literature at Vassar College (1971), then earned an MA at the University of Iowa (1975), M.F.A. (1976) and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.  While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996 she was a professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops, and continuing to teach there even after relocating to California.
Smiley published her first novel, Barn Blind, in 1980, and won a 1985 O. Henry Award for her short story "Lily", which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Her best-selling A Thousand Acres, a story based on William Shakespeare's King Lear, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992. It was adapted into a film of the same title in 1997. In 1995 she wrote her sole television script, produced for an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Her novella The Age of Grief was made into the 2002 film The Secret Lives of Dentists. Her essay "Feminism Meets the Free Market" was included in the 2006 anthology Mommy Wars  by Washington Post writer Leslie Morgan Steiner. Her essay "Why Bother?" appears in the anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2013.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005), is a non-fiction meditation on the history and the nature of the novel, somewhat in the tradition of E. M. Forster's seminal Aspects of the Novel, that roams from eleventh century Japan's Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji to 21st-century American women's literature.
In 2001, Smiley was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. She participates in the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in association with UCLA. Smiley chaired the judges' panel for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2009.
- Barn Blind (1980)
- At Paradise Gate (1981)
- Duplicate Keys (1984)
- The Greenlanders (1988)
- A Thousand Acres (1991)
- Moo (1995)
- The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (1998)
- Horse Heaven (2000)
- Good Faith (2003)
- Ten Days in the Hills (2007)
- The Georges and the Jewels (UK title: Nobody's Horse) (2009)
- Private Life (2010)
- A Good Horse (2010)
Short story collections
- The Age of Grief (1987)
- Ordinary Love & Good Will (1989)
- "Catskill Crafts" (1988)
- Charles Dickens (2003)
- A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck (2004)
- Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005)
- The Man Who Invented The Computer (2010)
Young Adult novels
- "The Georges and the Jewels" (2009)
- "A Good Horse" (2010)
- "True Blue" (2011)
- "Pie in the Sky" (2012)
- "Gee Whiz" (2013)
- "In Search of Crimes Past", episode of Homicide: Life on the Street (teleplay; story by Henry Bromell & Julie Martin) (1995)
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Jane Smiley at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Jane Smiley in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Jane Smiley collected news and commentary at The Guardian
- Jane Smiley collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- 2004 Slate article: "The unteachable ignorance of the red states"
- Write TV Public Television Interview with Jane Smiley
- 2003 interview of Jane Smiley, IdentityTheory
- 'Jane Smiley's Good Faith', review of Good Faith in the Oxonian Review
- 2010 Monterey Weekly article: "In her new novel, Private Life, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author uses family history as fictional fodder."
- KCRW Bookworm Interview