|Born||April 11, 1949|
Greenville, South Carolina, US
|Subject||class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family|
Dorothy Allison (born April 11, 1949) is an American writer from South Carolina whose writing focuses on class struggle, sexual abuse, child abuse, feminism and lesbianism. She is a self-identified lesbian femme. Allison has won a number of awards for her writing, including several Lambda Literary Awards. In 2014, Allison was elected to membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Dorothy E. Allison was born on April 11, 1949, in Greenville, South Carolina, to Ruth Gibson Allison, who was 15 years old at the time. Her father died when she was a baby. Her single mother was poor, working as a waitress and cook. Ruth eventually married, but when Dorothy was five, her stepfather began to abuse her sexually. This abuse lasted for seven years. At the age of 12, Allison told a relative about it, who told her mother. Ruth forced her husband to leave the girl alone, and the family remained together. The respite did not last long, as the stepfather resumed the sexual abuse, continuing for five years. Allison suffered mentally and physically, contracting gonorrhea that was not diagnosed and treated until she was in her 20s. The untreated disease left her unable to have children.
When aged about 11, Allison moved with her family to Central Florida. Allison found respite from her family life in school. She says she became aware of her lesbian sexuality during her early adolescence.
Allison was the first of her family to graduate from high school.
In 1967, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) on a National Merit scholarship. While in college, she joined the women's movement by way of a feminist collective. She credits "militant feminists" for encouraging her decision to write. Also around this time, Allison severed all ties to her family until 1981. She graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.
Allison subsequently did graduate work in anthropology at Florida State University, The Sagaris Institute, and the New School for Social Research, where she earned a M.A. in urban anthropology in 1981.
Allison held a wide variety of jobs before gaining any success as a writer. From 1973 to 1974, she was the editor of the feminist magazine Amazing Grace, in Tallahassee, Florida. During this time, she was also a founding manager of Herstore Feminist Bookstore in Tallahassee.
She worked as a salad girl, a maid, a nanny, and a substitute teacher. She also worked at a child-care center, answered phones at a rape crisis center, and clerked with the Social Security Administration. In certain periods, she trained during the day and at night sat in her motel room and wrote on yellow legal pads. She wrote about her life experiences, including the abuse by her stepfather, dealing with poverty, and her lust for women. This became the backbone of her future works.
Her first novel Bastard Out of Carolina was published in 1992 to great acclaim, becoming a best-seller. It was later adapted as a film of the same name, directed by Anjelica Huston for TNT. The book and film both generated controversy because of the graphic content, and the TV film was aired on Showtime rather than TNT. The Canadian Maritime Film Classification Board initially banned distribution of the film in Canada, but it was reversed on appeal. In November 1997, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a State Board of Education decision to ban the book in public high schools because of its graphic content.
Allison would go on to publish another novel and two collections of poetry and short stories.
In 1998, Allison founded The Independent Spirit Award to support writers who help sustain small presses and independent bookstores.
During spring 2007, Allison was Emory University Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Distinguished Visiting Professor.
Themes in Allison's work include class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family. French literary scholar Mélanie Grué, describes Allison's work as a celebration of "the vilified transgressive lesbian body." Grué also notes Allison's ability "to make [lesbian] desire and pleasure public" in her writing, in contrast to the second-wave feminist views on "correct expressions" of sexuality.
Her influences include Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Jewelle Gomez, Toni Morrison, Bertha Harris, and Audre Lorde. Allison says The Bluest Eye by Morrison helped her to write about incest. In the early 1980s, Allison met Lorde at a poetry reading. After reading what would eventually become her short-story "River of Names," Lorde approached her and told her that she simply must write.
Sex and gender activist
Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change." However, she admits, she would never have begun to publish her stories if she hadn't gotten over her prejudices, and started talking to her mother and sisters again.
Allison has advocated for safer sex and is active in feminist and lesbian communities. She and Jo Arnone cofounded the Lesbian Sex Mafia in 1981, the "oldest continuously running women’s BDSM support and education group in the country".
Honors and awards
In 2007, Allison was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers. The same year, she was awarded the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, as well as the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction.
In 2018, Allison received the Trailblazer Award from the Golden Crown Literary Society for being, in the words of Karin Kallmaker, "the original firebrand. She didn't write for approval, she wrote to survive. She is a firebrand, truthteller, and trailblazer."
|1989||Trash||Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction||Winner|||
|Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Small Press Book Award||Winner|||
|1992||Bastard Out of Carolina||ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners||Selection|||
|1993||Ferro Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction||Winner|||
|1995||Skin||Stonewall Book Award||Winner|||
|Lambda Literary Award for Small Press Book Award||Finalist|||
|Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Studies||Winner|||
|1996||Two or Three Things I Know for Sure||Stonewall Book Award||Finalist|||
|1998||Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir or Biography||Finalist|||
|Cavedweller||New York Times Notable Book of the Year||Selection|||
|1999||Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction||Winner|||
|2013||Conversations with Dorothy Allison||ALA Over the Rainbow Project Book List||Selection|||
|Library resources about |
|By Dorothy Allison|
- The Women Who Hate Me: Poems by Dorothy Allison (1983)
- Trash: Short Stories (1988) ISBN 9780452283510
- The Women Who Hate Me: Poetry 1980–1990 (1991) ISBN 978-0932379986
- Bastard Out of Carolina (1992) ISBN 9780452297753
- Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature (1994) ISBN 9780044409441
- Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995) ISBN 9780006548812
- Cavedweller (1998) ISBN 978-0452279698
- She Who (TBA)
- Conversations with Dorothy Allison (2012) ISBN 9781617032868
- Jason Who Will be Famous (2009)
- Women on Women: An Anthology of American Lesbian Short Fiction, edited by Joan Nestle (1990) ISBN 9780452263888
- High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings, edited by Amy Scholder and Ira Silverberg (1991) ISBN 9780452265820
- Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics and Practice, edited by Mark Thompson (1991) ISBN 9781555831868
- Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian: A Literary Anthology, edited by Bennett L. Singer (1993) ISBN 9781565841031
- Writing Women's Lives: An Anthology Of Autobiographical Narratives By Twentieth Century American Women Writers, edited by Susan Cahill (1994) ISBN 9780060969981
- Downhome: An Anthology of Southern Women Writers, edited by Susie Mee (1995) ISBN 9780156001212
- Swords of the Rainbow, edited by Eric Garber and Jewelle L. Gómez (1996) ISBN 9781555832667
- The Best American Short Stories 2003, edited by Walter Mosley and Katrina Kenison (2003) ISBN 9780618197330
- What Are You Looking At?: The First Fat Fiction Anthology, edited by Ira Sukrungruang and Donna Jarrell (2003) ISBN 9780156029070
- Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, edited by Michelle Tea (2004) ISBN 9781580051033
- Rhetorical Women: Roles and Representations, edited by Hildy Miller and Lillian Bridwell-Bowles (2005) ISBN 9780817351830
- All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, edited by Wendy Reed (2006) ISBN 9780817315344
- New Stories from the South 2010: The Year's Best (2010) ISBN 9781580051033
- Gay City: Volume 5: Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam, edited by Vincent Kovar and Evan J. Peterson (2013) ISBN 9781489580146
- The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South, edited by Douglas Ray (2014) ISBN 9781937420802
- Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South, edited by Connie Griffin (2015)
- Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia, edited by Adrian Blevins and Karen Salyer McElmurray (2015) ISBN 9780821421680
- Badass Women Give the Best Advice: Everything You Need to Know About Love and Life (2018)
- LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia, edited by Jeff Mann and Julia Watts (2019) ISBN 9781946684936
- The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, edited by John Freeman (2021)
- Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
- 2 or 3 Things But Nothing for Sure (1997)
- After Stonewall (1999)
- Cavedweller (2004), directed by Lisa Cholodenko with Aidan Quinn and Kyra Sedgwick
In popular culture
- Jetter, Alexis (December 17, 1995). "The Roseanne of Literature". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Ed. Burke, Jennifer Clare (2009). Visible: A Femmethology Vol. 2. Homofactus Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0978597351.
- "Dorothy Allison". The Fellowship of Southern Writers. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
- Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit, Michigan: Gale. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7876-3995-2.
- "Dorothy Allison". www.fembio.org. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
- "Dorothy Allison | Bio". dorothyallison. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
- Juncker, Clara (April 15, 2016). "Allison, Dorothy". South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Anderson, Kelly (November 18–19, 2007). "Voices of Feminism Oral History Project: Interview with Dorothy Allison" (PDF). Smith College Libraries. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- "Dorothy Allison papers, 1965-2010 - Archives & Manuscripts at Duke University Libraries". David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Marsh, Janet Z. "Dorothy Allison" in Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twenty-First-Century American Novelists, Second Series (Detroit, MI: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2009), ISBN 978-0-7876-8168-5
- "book inner". dorothyallison. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Hartt, Jordan (March 28, 2007). "An Interview with Dorothy Allison". Centrum. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
- Kallmaker, Karin (July 15, 2018). "Dorothy Allison: Burning Hot Hope". Kallmaker.com. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Grué, Mélanie (September 16, 2015). "Celebrating Queer Lesbian Desires with Dorothy Allison: From moral monstrosity to the beautiful materiality of the body". Ilha do Desterro. 68 (2): 127. doi:10.5007/2175-8026.2015v68n2p127. ISSN 2175-8026.
- "Depth, From The South At Hamilton College, Dorothy Allison Offers Crowd A Sip Of Reality." Laura T. Ryan Staff. The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY). STARS; p. 21, October 22, 2000.
- Dorothy, Allison (2012). Bastard out of Carolina. New York: Penguin. pp. Afterword. ISBN 978-0452269576. OCLC 27640153.
- Tomaso, Carla (January 1, 1995). "Never the Good Girl : SKIN: Sex, Class & Literature, By Dorothy Allison (Firebrand Books: $13.95, paper; 264 pp.)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Pat Califia (1988). The Lesbian S/M Safety Manual. Lace Publications. ISBN 978-1-55583-301-5.
- "About Us – Lesbian Sex Mafia". Lesbiansexmafia.org. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
- "Best Lesbian and Gay Novels". The Publishing Triangle. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Dorothy Allison". Fellowship of Southern Writers. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
- "Saints and Sinners Literary Festival". bestofneworleans.com, May 8, 2007.
- "Robert Penn Warren Award". The Fellowship of Southern Writers. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Golden Crown Literary Society Awards Include Dorothy Allison..." Windy City Times. 6 July 2018. Retrieved 2022-03-01.
- "Past Winner Biographies: Dorothy Allison". Alice B Awards. Retrieved 2022-03-01.
- "1st Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Bastard Out of Carolina | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "The Ferro-Grumley Awards". The Publishing Triangle. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (1995-07-15). "7th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Stonewall Book Awards List". American Library Association. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Two or Three Things I Know for Sure | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (1996-07-14). "8th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary Foundation. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Notable Books of 1998". The New York Times. 1998-12-06. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- Gonzalez Cerna, Antonio (1999-07-15). "11th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- "Conversations with Dorothy Allison | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
- Oler, Tammy (October 31, 2019). "57 Champions of Queer Feminism, All Name-Dropped in One Impossibly Catchy Song". Slate Magazine.
- Contemporary Authors Online (Detroit, MI: Gale, 2004), ISBN 978-0-7876-3995-2
- Philip Gambone, Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), ISBN 978-0-299-23684-7
- Megan, Carolyn E.; Allison, Dorothy (1994). "Moving Toward Truth: An Interview with Dorothy Allison". The Kenyon Review. 16 (4): 71–83. JSTOR 4337130.
- Carter, Natalie. "A Southern Expendable”: Cultural Patriarchy, Maternal Abandonment, and Narrativization in Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina", Butler University Libraries, October 2013.
- Johnson, Marrion. "Songs in Isolation: 17 LGBTQ Writers on What They are Listening to Right Now", Lambda Literary, April 19, 2020.
- Wright, Amy. "Dorothy Allison: Tender to the Bone", Guernica Magazine, 2002.
- Dorothy Allison's Official website
- Official Lesbian Sex Mafia Website
- Works by or about Dorothy Allison in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- AuthorViews video interview about Bastard Out of Carolina
- A Question of Class by Dorothy Allison
- Guide to the Dorothy Allison Papers at Duke University