Rebecca Brown (author)

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Rebecca Brown
Born1956 (age 67–68)
San Diego, California, U.S.[1]
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)
University of Virginia (MFA)
Notable worksThe Gifts of the Body

Rebecca Brown (born 1956) is an American novelist, essayist, playwright, artist, and professor.[2] She was the first writer in residence at Richard Hugo House, co-founder of the Jack Straw Writers Program,[3] and served as the creative director of literature at Centrum in Port Townsend, Washington from 2005 to 2009.[4][5] Brown's best-known work is her novel The Gifts of the Body, which won a Lambda Literary Award in 1994.[6] Rebecca Brown is an Emeritus faculty member in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont[7] and is also a multi-media artist whose work has been displayed in galleries such as the Frye Art Museum.[8]

Early life[edit]

Brown was born into a Navy family that moved often; she lived in California, Texas, Kansas, and Spain.[9] She has a brother and sister.[10] She earned a bachelor's in English from George Washington University and a Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia.[9] After finishing her MFA in the early 1980s, she settled in Seattle before moving to live in London and Italy for several years.[10][11] She returned to Seattle in 1990 and has been there since.[10] Brown's mother, Barbara Ann Wildman Brown, passed away from cancer in 1997; the experience of being her caretaker inspired the book Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary.[8][12] Her father, who left the family when Brown was a teenager, died from a heart attack shortly after her mother; his death inspired The End of Youth.[13]


Brown's works include collections of essays and short stories, a fictionalized autobiography, a modern bestiary, a memoir in the guise of a medical dictionary, a libretto for a dance opera, a play, and various kinds of fantasy. Brown has "a uniquely recognizable voice, writing as she does in a stark style that combines the minimalism of Ernest Hemingway with some of the incantatory rhythms of Gertrude Stein."[14] She shares some personal preferences with the latter.[2]

Brown wrote and performed her one-woman production Monstrous, a look at some of literature's monsters and how they don't fit anywhere, at the Northwest Film Forum in 2013.[15] She has also written a play, The Toaster, which debuted at Seattle's New City Theater in 2005, and a dance opera called The Onion Twins for the BetterBiscuitDance Company.[11] In 2001, the About Face Theater in Chicago adapted The Terrible Girls into a play.[2] New Short Fiction Series in Los Angeles adapted four different stories from The End of Youth to stage in 2003.[11]

She has been part of the faculties of the University of Washington Bothell, Evergreen State College, and Goddard College and has taught at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School and Pacific Lutheran University.[9][11] In addition to Hugo House, Brown has also done residencies at Yaddo, Hawthornden Castle, MacDowell, Centrum, Millay Arts, and Hedgebrook.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Brown lives in Capitol Hill, Seattle with her wife Chris Galloway and their cats.[16][11][10][17] She has been a practicing Roman Catholic since 2012.[10][18][2]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2005, she was awarded the Stranger Genius Award and given a $5,000 grant.[19][20]

Book Year Award Name Award Body Result Reference
The Gifts of the Body 1994 Lambda Literary Award Lambda Literary Foundation Winner [21]
1995 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Winner [22]
Washington State Governor’s Award Governor of Washington and Washington State Library Winner [23]
Boston Book Review Award Boston Review Winner [21]
Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary 2003 Washington State Book Award Washington Center for the Book, Washington State Library, and the Seattle Public Library Winner [24][4]
The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary 1998 Lambda Literary Award Lambda Literary Foundation Nominee [21]
The Last Time I Saw You 2007 Ferro-Grumley Award Publishing Triangle Nominee [21]
American Romances 2010 Judy Grahn Award Publishing Triangle Winner [25]

Selected works[edit]

1The Evolution of Darkness and Other StoriesBrilliance Books1984185 pp (paperback)978-0946189854
2The Haunted HousePicador1986140 pp (hardcover)978-0330291750
Robin Daley’s childhood is dominated by a sense of impermanence: Her hard-drinking father disappears as suddenly and unexpectedly as he arrives. Her adulthood offers an escape, but strange things happen when the dark corners and locked rooms of family life are revealed.[26]
3The Children's CrusadePan Books1989119 pp (paperback)978-0330305297
The narrator relates her childhood memories of parental and sibling relations, with all of their bewildering boundaries and limits, and finds herself drawn into a bizarre custody battle which separates her from her brother.[27]
4The Terrible GirlsPicador1990125 pp (hardcover)978-0330314794
The girls on the prowl in The Terrible Girls are indeed terrible—relentless in love, ruthless in betrayal. These thematically linked stories depict a contemporary Gothic world in which body parts are traded for love, wounds never heal, and self-sacrifice is often the only way out.[28]
5Annie Oakley's GirlCity Lights Publishers1993154 pp (paperback)978-0872862791
Brown's fourth... mixes fantasy, conjecture, and some realism in seven stories that feature atmospheric neo-feminist allegories and fables.[29]
6The Gifts of the BodyHarperCollins1995176 pp (paperback)978-0060926533
Delivering a voice of inspiration that transcends the AIDS epidemic, this emotionally wrenching novel speaks to everyone who has ever given or received the gift of compassion. A volunteer health-care worker delivers small gifts of daily life--a sponge bath, a hot meal--and gains in return an opportunity to watch and to witness, to mourn and to remember.[30]
7What Keeps Me HereHarperCollins1996136 pp (hardcover)978-0060174408
What Keeps Me Here is a collection of stories about relationships - between childhood friends, between lovers, between the warring parts of the self.[31]
8The Dogs: A Modern BestiaryCity Lights Publishers2001166 pp (paperback)978-0872863446
The nameless narrator of The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary lives in her studio apartment with a pack of Doberman pinchers. The dogs, led by the cruel, charismatic bitch named Miss Dog, alternate between being brutal attack animals and loyal companions, being real and otherworldly.[32]
9Excerpts from a Family Medical DictionaryUniversity of Wisconsin Press2001113 pp (paperback)978-0299189709
Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary is an intimate, exquisite, and true account of what it is to help a parent die. After her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, former home care worker and award-winning writer Rebecca Brown cared for her mother during the last six months of her life.[33]
10The End of YouthCity Lights Publishers2003123 pp (paperback)978-0872864184
The End of Youth is a collection of 13 linked stories, essays and rants, about carrying on after youth's hope is gone.[34]
11The Last Time I Saw YouCity Lights Publishers200697 pp (paperback)978-0872864474
Brown's imaginative, fierce collection of 12 stories... evokes the painful detritus of lesbian love affairs long over and the trickiness of memory.[35]
12American RomancesCity Lights Publishers2009162 pp (paperback)978-0872864986
This collection of mordant, poignant and playful essays shows Rebecca Brown at the height of her imaginative and intuitive powers. A wry and incisive social and literary critique is couched in a gonzo mix of pop culture, autobiography, fiction, literary history, misremembered movie plots and fantasy that plays with the notion of what it is to be "American."[36]
13Not Heaven, Somewhere ElseTarpaulin Sky Press201876 pp (paperback)978-1939460189
Novel- and essayist Rebecca Brown's thirteenth book is narrative cycle that revamps old fairy tales, movies, and myths, as it leads the reader from darkness to light, from harshness to love, from where we are to where we might go.[37]


  1. ^ Xhonneux, Lies (2012-12-18). "The Serial Mythology of a Non-Representative Self: Rebecca Brown's Life Writing". Authorship. 2 (1). doi:10.21825/aj.v2i1.764. hdl:10067/1025250151162165141. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  2. ^ a b c d Mudede, Charles (2005-10-13). "Literature: Rebecca Brown". The Stranger. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  3. ^ Stadler, Matthew (1999). "Rebecca Brown: The Byronic Woman". Lambda Book Report. 8 (3): 6–8. Archived from the original on 2013-07-04.
  4. ^ a b "CONTAGIOUS EXCHANGES: Rebecca Brown and C. Davida Ingram". Hugo House. 2016. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  5. ^ "Rebecca Brown". Brown University. n.d. Archived from the original on 2021-08-03. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  6. ^ Brown, Rebecca (25 October 2007). "Two pieces from P-I Writer in Residence Rebecca Brown". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  7. ^ "Award-winning author Rebecca Brown to speak at Goddard College". Goddard College. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  8. ^ a b Robbins, Jefferson (2013-09-17). "Rebecca Brown on Working in Varied Art Forms, Developing a Distinct Style". Humanities Washington. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  9. ^ a b c "Rebecca Brown to read Nov. 10". Washington University in St. Louis. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  10. ^ a b c d e Brown, Rebecca (May 2015). "An Interview with Rebecca Brown" (Interview). Interviewed by Alex Davis-Lawrence. Seattle, WA: Moss Lit. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Artistic Director Rebecca Brown". Centrum. 2004-03-20. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  12. ^ Mantel, Hilary (2004-03-08). "Sick notes". NewStatesman. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  13. ^ Peck, Dale (2003). "'Hatchet Jobs' - Give Me Shelter". The new York Times. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  14. ^ Xhonneux, Lies. Rebecca Brown: Literary Subversions of Homonormalization. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2014, p. 5
  15. ^ Kiley, Brendan (2013-12-07). "'Monstrous'". The Stranger. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  16. ^ Large, Jerry (1996-04-08). "Finding The 'Gifts' -- Rebecca Brown Writes Her Own Success Story". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  17. ^ "A Message to the City from Rebecca Brown". The Stranger. 2020-04-11. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  18. ^ DeBernardo, Francis (2016-10-07). "Catholic Lesbian Author Describes the Beauty of Incarnational Faith and Love". New Ways Ministry. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  19. ^ "Works by Dario Robleto and Henry Darger Inspire Local Writers in Frye's New Literary Works Series". FRYE Museum. 2008-04-29. Archived from the original on 2021-08-03. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  20. ^ Kiley, Brendan (2017-09-27). "Stranger Genius Awards postponed until spring". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  21. ^ a b c d "Award-Winning Books by Rebecca Brown". FictionDB. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  22. ^ "Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award - Regional Book". FictionDB. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  23. ^ "Governor's Writers Day Awards at the Washington State Library, 1966-2000". Washington Secretary of State. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  24. ^ "Washington State Book Awards". Washington Secretary of State. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  25. ^ "Rebecca Brown wins LGBT Award". NW Book Lovers. 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  26. ^ "The Haunted House". GoodReads. n.d. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  27. ^ Dyson, Freeman (1981). "The Children's Crusade". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 37 (10): 1. Bibcode:1981BuAtS..37j...1D. doi:10.1080/00963402.1981.11458914.
  28. ^ The Terrible Girls.
  29. ^ "Annie Oakely's Girl". Kirkus. 1993-04-01. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  30. ^ The gifts of the body.
  31. ^ What Keeps Me Here.
  32. ^ The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary.
  33. ^ Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary.
  34. ^ The end of youth.
  35. ^ "The Last Time I Saw You". Publishers Weekly. 2006-01-16. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  36. ^ American Romances.
  37. ^ Not Heaven, Somewhere Else.

External links[edit]