Jayne Anne Phillips

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Jayne Anne Phillips (born July 19, 1952)[1] is an American novelist and short story writer, born in the small town of Buckhannon, West Virginia.


Phillips graduated from West Virginia University, earning a B.A. in 1974, and later graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.


Phillips has held teaching positions at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Williams College, and Boston University. She is currently Professor of English and Founder/Director of the Rutgers–Newark Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. [1] [2] During its inaugural year, The Atlantic magazine named Phillips' MFA program at Rutgers–Newark to its list of "Five Up-and-Coming" creative writing programs in the United States.

Writing career[edit]

Short stories[edit]

  • Sweethearts (1976)[1]
  • Counting (1978)[1]
  • How Mickey Made It (1981)[1]
  • The Secret Country (1982)[1]
  • Black Tickets (1979)[1]
  • Fast Lanes (1984)[1]

During the mid-1970s, she left West Virginia for California, embarking on a cross-country trip that would lead to numerous jobs, experiences, and encounters that would greatly affect her fiction, with its focus on lonely, lost souls and struggling survivors.

In 1976, Truck Press published her first short story collection Sweethearts, for which Phillips earned a Pushcart Prize and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fels Award.

Sweethearts was followed in 1978 by a second small-press collection, Counting, issued by Vehicle Editions. Counting earned Phillips greater recognition and the St. Lawrence Award.

Her next collection, Black Tickets, published by Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence in 1979, was her first commercial success and brought her national attention as a talented and important writer. Black Tickets contained three types of stories: one page fictions, inner soliloquies, and family dramas. These stories focused on her characters' loneliness, alienation, and unsuccessful searches for happiness. Black Tickets is mentioned in the 2006 lectures for the Modern Scholar series installment From Here to Infinity, by Professor Michael D. C. Drout, who refers to her style—which he asserts was a direct influence on William Gibson's 1984 cyberpunk novel Neuromancer—as a "headlong rush of story and description".[2]

Phillips followed her first novel, Machine Dreams, with Fast Lanes, a 1988 collection of ten stories, all first-person narratives. Shortly after this, the president of ABC Daytime offered her the head writing position on the ratings challenged soap opera Loving. After serious consideration, Phillips declined the offer.


  • Machine Dreams (1984)[1]
  • Shelter (1994)[1]
  • MotherKind (2000)[1]
  • Lark & Termite (2008)[3]
  • Quiet Dell (2013)[4]

Five years after Black Tickets, Phillips published her first novel, Machine Dreams, a chronicle of the Hampson family from World War II to the Vietnam War.

In 1994, Phillips published her second novel, Shelter, a portrait of the loss of innocence at a West Virginia girls' camp in the summer of 1963.

Phillips' next novel was MotherKind (2000), winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, a story of intergenerational love and struggles within a family facing many changes.

Lark and Termite, her fourth novel, was published by Knopf in 2009 to extremely positive reviews and has been selected as one of five finalists for the National Book Award in fiction.[5]

Phillips' works have been translated and published in twelve foreign languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Bunting Fellowship from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College.


Phillips and her husband, Dr. Mark Stockman, have two sons. He has two sons from his first marriage. One of their sons, Theo Stockman, was an original member of the revival of Hair on Broadway and was a featured ensemble member in American Idiot.


External links[edit]