Mary Doria Russell

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For other people named Mary Russell, see Mary Russell (disambiguation).

Mary Doria Russell (born 1950) is an American novelist.

Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell speaking at a conference of the American Library Association in Philadelphia in January 2008
Born 1950 (1950)
Occupation Novelist
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Michigan
Genres Science fiction, historical fiction
Notable work(s) The Sparrow, Children of God
Notable award(s) James Tiptree, Jr. Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Kurd Lasswitz Preis
Spouse(s) Don
Children Dan

Early life and education[edit]

Russell was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were both in the military: her father was a Marine Corps drill instructor, and her mother was a Navy nurse. She was raised as a Catholic but left the church at age fifteen, and her struggles to figure out how much of that culture to pass on to her children fueled the prominence of religion in her work. She graduated from Glenbard East High School and later she earned a Ph.D in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Writing career[edit]

Two of Russell's novels — The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God — have as their subject first contact with aliens. Within the two works, she explores how one can reconcile the idea of a benevolent deity in a universe filled with pain and evil.

Russell's third novel, A Thread of Grace, tells a fictional story within the fact-based setting of the Resistance in Italy during World War II and the plight of Jewish refugees in Northern Italy escaping from Nazi persecution throughout Europe. Although a work of fiction, much of story is based on accounts of actual survivors from this period. During the Nazi occupation of their country, many real Italian citizens allowed Jewish refugees to seek safe harbour among their farmlands, cities, and ports. Russell herself is of Italian heritage and is also a convert to Judaism.[1]

Russell's fourth novel, Dreamers of the Day (released in March 2008), revolves around the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, which laid the foundations for the modern Middle East.

Russell's most recent novel, Doc (2011), is a Western and murder mystery. It is set in Dodge City in 1878, when the friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday began, four years before the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.

Personal life[edit]

Russell resides in Lyndhurst, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, with her husband, Don. They have a son, Dan.

She is a convert to Judaism.[1][2]



  • Hugo Award
  • Book of the Month Club Best First Fiction Prize

See also[edit]

  • Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher for whom the interstellar ship in Children of God is named


  1. ^ a b "A Talk with Mary Doria Russell". BookBrowse. Doubleday Broadway. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  2. ^ "An Interview with novelist Mary Doria Russell From the National Jesuit News". Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  3. ^ A Thread of Grace at
  4. ^ Dreamers of the Day at

External links[edit]