Elizabeth Strout

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Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout 2015.jpg
Strout at the 2015 Texas Book Festival.
Born January 6, 1956
Portland, Maine,
Occupation novelist
Nationality United States
Genre Literary fiction

Elizabeth Strout (born January 6, 1956) is an American novelist and short story writer. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge, a collection of connected short stories about a woman and her immediate family and friends on the coast of Maine.[1] The book has been adapted into an HBO miniseries that won six awards at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards.[2]


Strout was born in Portland, Maine,[3] and was raised in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. Her father was a science professor, and her mother taught high school.

Strout was interviewed by Terry Gross in January 2016[4] wherein she said:

″I grew up in Durham, N.H. My parents were both professors at the university. My father was in the sciences. He was a parasitologist. He had his own lab that he ran. And my mother taught writing in the English Department, and she also taught writing in the high school. And we also lived in Maine on a dirt road where many of my relatives lived along that same dirt road.″

After graduating from Bates College, she spent a year in Oxford, England, followed by studies at law school for another year. In 1982 she graduated with honors, and received both a law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law and a Certificate of Gerontology from the Syracuse School of Social Work. That year her first story was published in New Letters magazine.

Strout moved to New York City. She continued to write stories that were published in literary magazines, as well as in Redbook and Seventeen.

Being interviewed by Terry Gross in January 2015[5] Strout said:

"... after college... I waitressed and sent out stories and did that for a few years, and then I had no luck at all, not even a nibble with any of my stories. And I began to get worried, and I thought, well, you know, what if I end up 58 years old - that was the number in my head - I thought, what if I end up 58 years old, and I'm a cocktail waitress, and I haven't published anything? So I thought, well, you know, I'll go to law school, and I will be a lawyer but I'll write at night. And that was misguided of me because, you know, I couldn't. But I did go to law school. I dropped out. I went back. I finished. I did get the gerontology certificate with it. And I continued to write. The whole time I was in law school I continued to write. And the truth is I was a very bad lawyer. I practiced for six months. I was a terrible lawyer. So I realized - and I can remember this moment - I realized I came home from work one day, and I thought, OK, I can probably be a bad lawyer for the rest of my life or I can go back to writing and be a cocktail waitress who's never published anything, and that will be my life. And it just seemed an honest living at that point. It was sort of - it took law school for me to realize I - just go for it as a writer. So the law school was more of an operation, I think."

She worked for six or seven years to complete her book, Amy and Isabelle, which when published was shortlisted for the 2000 Orange Prize and nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.[3] Amy and Isabelle was adapted as a television movie, starring Elisabeth Shue and produced by Oprah Winfrey's studio, Harpo Films.

Strout was a NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) professor at Colgate University during the Fall Semester of 2007, where she taught creative writing at both the introductory and advanced levels. She was also on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 2009 Strout was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge, a collection of connected short stories about a woman and her immediate family and friends on the coast of Maine.[1] In June 2010, Italian booksellers voted Olive Kitteridge and Strout as the winner of the Premio Bancarella award, at an event held in the medieval Piazza della Repubblica in Pontremoli, Italy. The Burgess Boys, was published March 26, 2013, and her most recent novel, "My Name Is Lucy Barton," was published in January, 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Strout is married to former Maine Attorney General James Tierney. He serves as the Director of the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School. She divides her time between New York and Maine.




  • The Friend Who Got Away (2005)


External links[edit]