Suzette Haden Elgin

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Suzette Haden Elgin
Born Patricia Anne Wilkins
(1936-11-18) November 18, 1936 (age 78)
Louisiana, Missouri, United States
Alma mater University of California, San Diego
Occupation science fiction author, linguist

Suzette Haden Elgin (born Patricia Anne Wilkins on November 18, 1936[1]) is an American science fiction author. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and is considered an important figure in the field of science fiction constructed languages. Elgin is also a linguist; she publishes non-fiction, of which the best-known is the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series.


Born in 1936 in Jefferson City, Missouri, Elgin attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in the 1960s, and began writing science fiction in order to pay tuition. She has a PhD in linguistics, and was the first UCSD student to ever write two dissertations (on English and Navajo). She created the engineered language Láadan for her Native Tongue science fiction series. A grammar and dictionary was published in 1985. She is a supporter of feminist science fiction, saying "women need to realize that SF is the only genre of literature in which it's possible for a writer to explore the question of what this world would be like if you could get rid of [X], where [X] is filled in with any of the multitude of real world facts that constrain and oppress women. Women need to treasure and support science fiction."[2]

In addition, she has published works of shorter fiction. Overlying themes in her work include feminism, linguistics and the impact of language, and peaceful coexistence with nature. Many of her works also draw from her Ozark background and heritage.

Elgin became a professor at her alma mater's cross-town rival, San Diego State University (SDSU). She retired in 1980, and currently lives in the Ozarks in Arkansas with her husband George.



Coyote Jones series[edit]

  • The Communipaths (1970)
  • Furthest (1971)
  • At the Seventh Level (1972) (cover and interior illustrations by George Barr)
  • Star-Anchored, Star-Angered (1979), ISBN 0-385-13564-5
  • Yonder Comes the Other End of Time (1986), ISBN 0-88677-110-2

The Ozark Trilogy (1981)[edit]

Native Tongue series[edit]


Short stories[edit]


Songs (partial list)[edit]

  • Dead Skunk Song
  • Song at the Ready
  • When I Was a Young Girl (lyrics only, to the tune of "The Ash Grove")
  • Where the Emerald Kudzu Twines
  • The World They Call Terra
  • Down in Holes (lyrics only, to the tune of "Frère Jacques")
  • The Firelizard Song


The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense[edit]



  1. ^ Clute, John (2012). "Suzette Haden Elgin". Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Gollancz. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  2. ^ Wells, Kim (1999). "An Interview with Suzette Haden Elgin". Women Retrieved 2012-04-16. 

External links[edit]