Cheryl Strayed

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Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed
Born Cheryl Nyland
(1968-09-17) September 17, 1968 (age 47)
Spangler, Pennsylvania
Occupation Writer
Language English
Citizenship United States
Subject Memoir, fiction, personal essays, advice
Notable works Torch, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Brave Enough
Spouse Brian Lindstrom (1999–present)

Cheryl Strayed (/ˈstrd/; née Nyland; born September 17, 1968) is an American memoirist, novelist, and essayist. The author of four books, her award-winning writing has been published widely in national magazines and anthologies.

Strayed's first book, the novel Torch, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2006 to positive critical reviews.[1] Torch was a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award and selected by The Oregonian as one of the top ten books of 2006 by writers living in the Pacific Northwest.[2] In October 2012, Torch was re-issued by Vintage Books with a new introduction by Strayed.

Strayed's second book, the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf on March 20, 2012, and has been translated into more than forty languages. The week of its publication, Wild debuted at number 7 on the New York Times Best Seller list in hardcover non-fiction. In June 2012, Oprah Winfrey announced that Wild was her first selection for her new Oprah's Book Club 2.0. The next month Wild reached number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, a spot it held for seven consecutive weeks.[3] The paperback edition of Wild was published by Vintage Books in March of 2013, where it has spent 126 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. The book has also been a bestseller around the world--in the UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and elsewhere. Wild won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award.

In July 2012, Vintage Books published Strayed's third book: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. The book debuted in the advice and self-help category on the New York Times Best Seller list at number 5 and it has also been published internationally. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is a selection of Strayed's popular "Dear Sugar" advice column, which she wrote for no pay for the literary web site The Rumpus from 2010 to 2012.

Strayed's fourth book, Brave Enough was published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf on October 27, 2015 and in the United Kingdom a week later by Atlantic Books . It debuted in the advice and self-help category on the New York Times Best Seller list at number 10.

Early life[edit]

Strayed was born in Spangler, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Barbara Anne "Bobbi" (née Young; 1945–1991) and Ronald Nyland. At age six, she moved with her family to Chaska, Minnesota. Her parents divorced soon after. At age 13, she moved with her mother and stepfather Glenn Lambrecht, along with her two siblings, Karen and Leif, to rural Aitkin County, where they lived in a house that they had built themselves on 40 acres. The house did not have electricity or running water for the first few years. Indoor plumbing was installed after Strayed moved away for college. She later re-connected with her half-sister from a previous relationship of her father.[4]

In 1986, at age 17, Strayed graduated from McGregor High School in McGregor, Minnesota, where she was a track and cross country runner, cheerleader, and homecoming queen. She loosely based the fictional Coltrap County in her novel Torch on McGregor and Aitkin County. Strayed attended her freshman year of college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, but by her sophomore year, she transferred to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in English and Women's Studies. In March 1991, when Strayed was a senior in college, her mother, Bobbi Lambrecht, died suddenly of lung cancer at age 45. Strayed has described this loss as her "genesis story". She has written about her mother's death and her grief in each of her books and several of her essays.[5]

Strayed worked as a waitress, youth advocate, political organizer, temporary office employee, and emergency medical technician [6] throughout her 20s and early 30s, while writing and often traveling around the United States. In 2002, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from Syracuse University,[6] where she was mentored by writers George Saunders, Arthur Flowers, Mary Gaitskill, and Mary Caponegro.


In addition to her four books Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Brave Enough, and Torch, Strayed has published essays in various magazines, including The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Tin House, The Missouri Review, and The Sun Magazine.[7] Her work has been selected three times for inclusion in The Best American Essays ("Heroin/e" in the 2000 edition, and "The Love of My Life" in the 2003 edition, and "My Uniform" in the 2015 edition). Strayed was the guest editor of The Best American Essays 2013. She won a Pushcart Prize for her essay, "Munro Country," which was originally published in The Missouri Review.[8] The essay is about a letter Strayed received from Alice Munro, when she was a young writer and Munro's influence on Strayed's writing.[9]

Strayed wrote the popular advice column "Dear Sugar" on The Rumpus.[10] She began writing the column in March 2010, when the column's originator Steve Almond asked her to take over for him.[11] She wrote the column anonymously until February 14, 2012, when she revealed her identity as "Sugar" at a "Coming Out Party" hosted by the Rumpus at the Verdi Club in San Francisco.[10][12][13] A selection of her columns have been collected in her bestselling book Tiny Beautiful Things.

Her memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail details her 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon-Washington border and tells the story of the personal struggles that compelled her to take the hike.[14] Three months before her memoir was published, actress Reese Witherspoon optioned it for her company, Pacific Standard.[12][15] Nick Hornby adapted Wild for the screen, with Witherspoon portraying Strayed in the film.[16]

In June 2012, Wild was chosen as the inaugural selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0, which is a relaunch of Oprah's Book Club, which ended in 2011. Oprah's Book Club 2.0 uses online social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Winfrey discussed Wild in her video announcement of the new club. Winfrey interviewed Strayed for a two-hour broadcast of her show Super Soul Sunday on her OWN Network.[17]

Strayed is also a public speaker and often gives lectures about her life and books.[18]

Strayed co-hosts the Dear Sugar podcast with Steve Almond. The podcast is produced by WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio affiliate.[19]

Film adaptation of Wild[edit]

Main article: Wild (film)

The film adaptation of Wild was released on December 3, 2014 in the United States with actress Reese Witherspoon starring as Strayed. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Witherspoon optioned Wild for film with producer Bruna Papandrea for their production company, Pacific Standard, a few months before Wild was published. The book was adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby. In October 2013, the film went into production with Witherspoon in the lead. The cast includes Laura Dern (as Strayed's mother, Bobbi), Strayed's daughter Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom (as the young Cheryl), Gaby Hoffmann, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, and Kevin Rankin among others.

Personal life[edit]

Strayed married filmmaker Brian Lindstrom in August of 1999. They have two children and live in Portland, Oregon.[20] Her daughter, Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom, played the younger version of Strayed in the film adaptation of Wild.[21]

Strayed married Marco Littig in 1988, a month before her 20th birthday.[22] They divorced in 1995.[23]

A long-time feminist activist, Strayed worked in her twenties as a political organizer for the Abortion Rights Council of Minnesota, which is now called Minnesota NARAL, and also for Women Against Military Madness, a feminist peace and justice nonprofit organization in Minneapolis–Saint Paul.[24] She served on the first board of directors for Vida: Women in Literary Arts and has been active in many feminist and progressive causes.[7]

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ "Mother, Brace Yourself". 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  2. ^ "Top Ten Northwest". The Oregonian. Dec 31, 2006. p. O12. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Ihsan (July 15, 2012). "Best Sellers – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  4. ^ accessed 8/10/14
  5. ^ Kirch, Clare (Jan 9, 2012). "Girl gone wild: Cheryl Strayed". Publishers Weekly 259 (2). 
  6. ^ a b "Cheryl Strayed." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Board of Directors". Vida: Women in Literary Arts. Retrieved Jan 26, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Pushed Into Munro Country | TMR Blog". Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
  9. ^ Jeff Baker, The Oregonian. "Portland writer Cheryl Strayed wins Pushcart Prize". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  10. ^ a b Errico, Sally. "Dear Sugar’s True Identity". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  11. ^ Almond, Steve (2012). "Introduction". Tiny beautiful things : advice on love and life from Dear Sugar. New York: Vintage Books. p. 4. ISBN 9780307949332. 
  12. ^ a b Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian. "Portland writer Cheryl Strayed reveals she is popular advice columnist 'Dear Sugar'". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  13. ^ "Cheryl Strayed Is Sugar!(!!!)". The Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  14. ^ "Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Cheryl Strayed Interview". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  15. ^ Hallett, Alison (2012-03-15). "Cheryl Strayed's Wild Optioned by Reese Witherspoon | Blogtown, PDX". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  16. ^ Andrew Pulver (Nov 30, 2012). "Nick Hornby to go Wild for new Reese Witherspoon film". Retrieved Jan 26, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Oprah Announces Oprah's Book Club 2.0 – Video". 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Gachman, Dina (December 16, 2014). "A 'Dear Sugar' Podcast Is Here, Which is Evidence That Cheryl Strayed Has Read All of Our Holiday Wishlists". Bustle. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Cheryl Strayed. "The Love Of My Life". The Sun Magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  21. ^ Allegra Tepper. "‘Wild’ Not Just for Women, Says Laura Dern and Approved by Bruce Dern – Variety". Variety. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "Wild Movie True Story – Real Cheryl Strayed vs. Reese Witherspoon". Retrieved 2015-01-08. 
  23. ^ David Erickson (2014-12-04). "Missoula man's history tied to upcoming Hollywood motion picture". Missoulian. Retrieved 2015-01-08. 
  24. ^ Retrieved Nov 11, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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