Helen DeWitt

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Helen DeWitt
Helen DeWitt.jpg
Helen DeWitt
Born 1957
Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Period 2000–present
Genre Novel
Notable works The Last Samurai
Lightning Rods
Voice of Helen DeWitt, 2015

Helen DeWitt (born 1957 in Takoma Park, Maryland) is a novelist. She is the author of the novels The Last Samurai (2000) and Lightning Rods (2012), and in collaboration with the Australian journalist Ilya Gridneff has written Your Name Here (published in 2008). She lives in Berlin.[1]


DeWitt grew up primarily in Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador[2]), as her parents worked in the United States diplomatic service. After a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School and two short periods at Smith College, DeWitt studied classics at the University of Oxford, first at Lady Margaret Hall, and then at Brasenose College for her D.Phil.


DeWitt is best known for her debut novel, The Last Samurai. She held a variety of jobs while struggling to finish a book, including a dictionary text tagger, a copytaker, and Dunkin' Donuts employee, legal secretary, and working at a laundry service. During this time she reportedly attempted to finish many novels, before finally completing The Last Samurai, her 50th manuscript, in 1998.[2][3] In 2005 she collaborated with Ingrid Kerma, the London-based painter, writing "limit5" for the exhibition "Blushing Brides".

In 2012, DeWitt published her second novel, Lightning Rods, with independent High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire publisher And Other Stories[4] to high acclaim.[5]

An excerpt from an in-progress novel set in Flin Flon, Manitoba has been published by Open Book: Ontario at the end of an article about the novel and DeWitt's difficulties in finding a publisher.[6]

Her short story "Climbers", which explores artistic ideals and commercial realities of the writing life, was published in Harper's magazine November 2014.[7]


Short stories[edit]


  1. ^ And Other Stories, Helen DeWitt Retrieved 23 January 2013
  2. ^ a b Macgowan, James (2000-10-15). "After 50 attempts, Helen DeWitt's brainy prose gets brawny cash advances". The Ottawa Citizen. CanWest Interactive. 
  3. ^ The Paris Review. "Helen DeWitt: My First Time". The Paris Review. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ Carter, Helen (10 October 2012). "Independents' day? Small presses make up 50% of Booker shortlist" The Guardian. Accessed 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ http://www.andotherstories.org/book/lightning-rods/ Retrieved 23 January 2013
  6. ^ "Helen DeWitt on Writing, Flin Flon and the Canadian Personality". 
  7. ^ harper's magazine vol.329 No. 1974

External links[edit]