Andrea Barrett

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Andrea Barrett (born November 16, 1954)[1] is an American novelist and short story writer. Her collection Ship Fever won the 1996 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction,[2] and she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. Her book Servants of the Map was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,[3] and Archangel was a finalist for the 2013 Story Prize.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Barrett was born in Boston, Massachusetts.[1] She earned a B.A. in biology from Union College and briefly attended a Ph.D. program in zoology.


Barrett began writing fiction seriously in her thirties, but was relatively unknown until the publication of Ship Fever, a collection of novellas and short stories that won the National Book Award in 1996.[2]

Barrett's work has been published in A Public Space,[5] The Paris Review, Tin House, Ploughshares, One Story, Triquarterly, Salmagundi, The American Scholar, and The Kenyon Review, among other places. Her fiction and essays have been selected for Best American Short Stories, Best American Science Writing, Best American Essays, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories,[6] and other anthologies.

Barrett is particularly well known as a writer of historical fiction. Her work reflects her lifelong interest in science, and women in science. Many of her characters are scientists, often 19th-century biologists.

As in the work of William Faulkner, some of her characters have appeared in more than one story or novel. In an appendix to her novel The Air We Breathe (2007), Barrett supplied a family tree, making clear the characters' relationships that began in Ship Fever. Although each novel and story is self-contained, the reader comprehends an added dimension when familiar with the characters' previous histories.

Barrett was a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in the eastern Adirondacks, near Lake Champlain.


  • (1988) Lucid Stars (novel)
  • (1989) Secret Harmonies (novel)
  • (1991) The Middle Kingdom (novel)
  • (1993) The Forms of Water (novel)
  • (1996) Ship Fever (collection of short stories) — winner of the National Book Award[2]
  • (1998) The Voyage of the Narwhal (novel).
  • (2002) Servants of the Map (collection of short stories) — finalist for the Pulitzer Prize[3]
  • (2007) The Air We Breathe (novel)
  • (2013) Archangel (fiction)
  • (forthcoming in 2022) Natural History (fiction)


  1. ^ a b "Union Notable - Andrea Barrett". Union College. 2010. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  2. ^ a b c "National Book Awards – 1996". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
    (With essay by Julia Glass from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  3. ^ a b "Fiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  4. ^ "The Story Prize Winner & Finalists - 2013" Archived 2014-03-22 at the Wayback Machine. The Story Prize. Retrieved 2014-3-22.
  5. ^ "The Investigators in A Public Space Issue 18" Archived 2013-08-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2013-07-6.
  6. ^ "The Particles selected for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013". Retrieved 2013-07-5.

External links[edit]