Marilynne Robinson at the 2012 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.
November 26, 1943 |
Sandpoint, Idaho, United States
|Notable works||Housekeeping (1980)
|Notable awards||Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award (1981)
National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2004, 2014)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2005)
Orange Prize for Fiction (2009)
National Humanities Medal (2012)
Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction (2016)
Marilynne Summers Robinson (born November 26, 1943) is an American novelist and essayist. During her writing career Robinson has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005, the 2012 National Humanities Medal, and the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. In 2016 Robinson was named to Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people. Robinson has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop since 1991, and plans to retire in the spring of 2016.
A prolific writer, Robinson is best known for her novels Housekeeping (1980) and Gilead (2004). Her novels are noted for both their mid-20th century American Midwest setting as well as their thematic depiction of rural life and faith. The subjects of her essays have spanned numerous topics, including the relationship between religion and science, nuclear pollution, John Calvin, and contemporary American politics.
Robinson (née Summers) was born and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho. Her brother is the art historian David Summers, who dedicated his book Vision, Reflection, and Desire in Western Painting to her. She did her undergraduate work at Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown University, receiving her B.A., magna cum laude in 1966, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1977.
Robinson has written four highly acclaimed novels: Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), Home (2008), and Lila (2014). Housekeeping was a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (US), Gilead was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer, and Home received the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction (UK). Home is a companion to Gilead and focuses on the Boughton family during the same time period.
She is also the author of non-fiction works including Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998), Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010), When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays (2012), and The Givenness of Things: Essays (2015). She has written articles, essays and reviews for Harper’s, The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review.
She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities, including the University of Kent, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst' MFA Program for Poets and Writers. In 2009, she held a Dwight H. Terry Lectureship at Yale University, giving a series of talks titled Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self. On April 19, 2010, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In May 2011, Robinson delivered Oxford University's annual Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters at the university's Rothermere American Institute.
She is currently the F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and lives in Iowa City. She was the keynote speaker for the Workshop's 75th anniversary celebration in June 2011. In 2012, Brown University awarded Robinson the degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa. On February 18, 2013, she was the speaker at the Easter Convocation of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa. Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, Amherst College, Skidmore College, and Oxford University have also awarded Robinson honorary degrees. She has been elected a fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford University.
Robinson was raised as a Presbyterian and later became a Congregationalist, worshipping and sometimes preaching at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Iowa City. Her Congregationalism, and her interest in the ideas of John Calvin, have been important in her works, including Gilead, which centers on the life and theological concerns of a fictional Congregationalist minister. In an interview with the Church Times in 2012, Robinson said: "I think, if people actually read Calvin, rather than read Max Weber, he would be rebranded. He is a very respectable thinker."
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has described Robinson as "one of the world's most compelling English-speaking novelists", and said: "Robinson's is a voice we urgently need to attend to in both Church and society here [in the UK]." On January 24, 2013, Robinson was announced to be among the finalists for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.
On June 26, 2015, President Barack Obama quoted Robinson in his eulogy for the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In speaking about "an open heart," President Obama said: "[w]hat a friend of mine, the writer Marilynne Robinson, calls 'that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.'”  In November 2015, The New York Review of Books published a two-part conversation between President Obama and Robinson, covering topics in American history and the role of faith in society.
- Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989)
- The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998)
- Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010)
- When I Was a Child I Read Books (2012)
- The Givenness of Things: Essays (2015)
Essays and reporting
|On "beauty"||2011||Robinson, Marilynne (Winter 2011). "On "beauty"". Tin House. 50.||Henderson, Bill, ed. (2013). The Pushcart Prize XXXVII : best of the small presses 2013. Pushcart Press. pp. 80–93.|
|Fear||2015||Robinson, Marilynne (Fall 2015). "Fear". New York Review of Books. 62 (14). Retrieved 2016-01-21.||Robinson, Marilynne (2016). The Givenness of Things. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 124–140.|
- A September 2015 interview with Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa, recorded by the New York Review of Books and published in the October issues of the magazine in two-parts
- 1982: Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for best first novel for Housekeeping
- 1982: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction shortlist for Housekeeping 
- 1989: National Book Award for Nonfiction shortlist for Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution
- 1999: PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for The Death of Adam
- 2004: National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for Gilead
- 2005: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Gilead
- 2005: Ambassador Book Award for Gilead
- 2006: University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion
- 2008: National Book Award finalist for Home
- 2008: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction for Home
- 2009: Orange Prize for Fiction for Home
- 2011: Man Booker International Prize nominee
- 2012: Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Brown University
- 2012: National Humanities Medal for "grace and intelligence in writing"
- 2013: Man Booker International Prize nominee
- 2013: Park Kyong-ni Prize
- 2014: National Book Critics Circle Award for Lila
- 2016: Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction and Dayton Literary Peace Prize
- 100 Most Influential People Marilynne Robinson Time Magazine, April 2016
- "UI Writers' Workshop faculty member Marilynne Robinson win quarter-million-dollar award". February 4, 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- "Robinson to retire from Iowa Writers' Workshop". Iowa Now. 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2016-04-27.
- "A love letter to lost America". April 2, 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- "History & Literature of the Pacific Northwest: Marilynne Robinson, 1943". Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington. n.d. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- Lister, Rachel (2006-10-21). "Marilynne Robinson (1947– )". The Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
- "Home by Marilynne Robinson". Us.macmillan.com. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- Dave Itzkoff, "Marilynne Robinson Wins Orange Prize", The New York Times, June 3, 2009.
- "American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Amacad.org. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "Marilynne Robinson interview: The faith behind the fiction", Reform, September 2010.
- "Marilynne Robinson", Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, September 18, 2009.
- "Marilynne Robinson", Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, March 18, 2005.
- Wroe, Martin, "A minister of the word", Church Times, 22 June 2012
- Williams, Rowan, "Mighty plea for reasonableness", Church Times, 12 August 2012
- "Man Booker International Prize 2013 Finalists Announced | The Man Booker Prizes". Themanbookerprize.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "Remarks by the President in Eulogy for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney". whitehouse.gov. 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation in Iowa". The New York Review of Books. November 5, 2015. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation—II". The New York Review of Books. November 19, 2015. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Five books for 2014", The Economist November 21, 2013
- "PEN/Hemingway Award Winners". The Hemingway Society. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "1982 Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "2006- Marilynne Robinson". Grawemeyer.org. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "Simmons among nine honorary degree recipients". Brown University. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- President Obama to Award 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal Whitehouse.gov, retrieved 30 June 2013
- Julie Jackson (September 26, 2013). "Park Kyung-ni literary prize goes to Robinson". Korea Herald. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- Alexandra Alter (March 12, 2015). "'Lila' Honored as Top Fiction by National Book Critics Circle". New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- "Marilynne Robinson wins Library of Congress fiction prize". Associated Press. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
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