Sara Paretsky

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Sara Paretsky
Born (1947-06-08) June 8, 1947 (age 73)
Ames, Iowa, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Kansas, Lawrence, BA in political science (summa cum laude) 1967
University of Chicago, M.B.A. 1977
University of Chicago, PhD in history 1977[1]
GenreCrime fiction
S. Courtenay Wright
(m. 1976)
RelativesDavid (father), Mary (mother)

Sara Paretsky (born June 8, 1947) is an American author of detective fiction, best known for her novels focused on the protagonist V. I. Warshawski.

Life and career[edit]

Paretsky was born in Ames, Iowa. Her father was a microbiologist and moved the family to Kansas in 1951 after taking a job at the University of Kansas, where Paretsky eventually graduated. The family rented an old farm house. Her relationship with her parents was strained; her mother was an alcoholic and her father was a harsh disciplinarian.[3]

After obtaining a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Kansas, she did community service work on the south side of Chicago in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago; her dissertation was entitled "The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New England Before the Civil War". She also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Her husband, Courtenay Wright, was a professor of physics at the University of Chicago; the two were together from 1970 until his death in 2018.[4]

Paretsky is an alumna of the Ragdale Foundation.[5] She was to appear in an amateur light opera production in 2011.[1]

The protagonist of all but two of Paretsky's novels is the female private investigator V.I. Warshawski and the author is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel.[6][7] The Winter 2007 issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection is devoted to her work.[8] She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports and promotes women in the mystery field.[9]



Short story collections[edit]

  • Windy City Blues, Delacorte (1995) (1988) (Published in the UK as V.I. for Short) ISBN 0385315023
  • A Taste of Life and Other Stories, London, Penguin, (1995). ISBN 0146000404


  • Photo Finish (2000) ISBN 978-1-101-53751-0
  • V.I. x 2 (2002) includes short stories 'Photo Finish' & 'Publicity Stunts'
  • V.I. x 3 (2011) includes both stories from V.I. x 2 and 'A Family Sunday in the Park' ISBN 9781257416448


  • Case Studies in Alternative Education. Chicago Center for New Schools, 1975 .
  • Writing in an Age of Silence (2007) ISBN 978-1-84467-122-9
  • Words, Works, and Ways of Knowing: The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New England Before the Civil War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

As editor[edit]

  • Eye of a Woman (short stories). New York, Delacorte Press, 1990 ; as A Woman's Eye: New Stories by the Best Women Crime Writers, London, Virago, 1991
  • Women on the Case (1997) ISBN 978-0-440-22325-2; as Woman's Other Eye, London, Virago, 1996
  • Sisters on the Case (2007) ISBN 978-0-451-22239-8

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b "REVELS TO PERFORM 'THE BALLAD OF SCAVENGER GULCH' ON JAN. 28–29" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). States News Service. January 25, 2011. Gale Document Number: GALE|A247644165. Retrieved November 22, 2011. Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^ "Sara Paretsky". St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Gale. 1996. Gale Document Number: GALE|K2406000432. Retrieved November 22, 2011. Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ Sarah Crown, Sara Paretsky interview: ‘I start each VI Warshawski book convinced I can’t do it’, The Guardian, 7 August 2015.
  4. ^ Maureen O'Donnell, "Courtenay Wright, University of Chicago physicist, witness to D-Day, dead at 95", Chicago Sun Times, Nov 26, 2018
  5. ^ "Ragdale Alumni: Writers – Fiction – O-Z". Ragdale Foundation website. 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  6. ^ Martin, Nora (1996). ""In the business of believing women's stories": Feminism through detective fiction (Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton)" (M.A. thesis) Wilfrid Laurier University
  7. ^ Kinsman, Margaret (2016). Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-7187-4. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  8. ^ "Clues: A Journal of Detection". Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  9. ^ Roberts, Lora. "A History of Sisters in Crime". Archived from the original on August 25, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  10. ^ Reviewed by Elena Hartwell in New York Journal of Books, 16 October 2018
  11. ^ a b "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards Nominees". October 2, 2003. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards and History". Retrieved March 5, 2012.

External links[edit]