Anna Quindlen: “She found her niche writing about political and women’s issues from a highly personal viewpoint.”


From The Writer’s Almanac:

Today is the birthday of columnist, novelist, and essayist Anna Quindlen, born in Philadelphia in 1953. She entered journalism as a “copy girl” for the New York Times at the age of 18. She also went to Barnard, but then had to drop out to raise her four younger siblings after her mother died of ovarian cancer.

She eventually went back to finish her degree, but found it hard to relate to her classmates and their concerns: “Having looked after someone who’s dying, having given [my mother] morphine, having made school lunches for your siblings — and then going back to a place where the biggest concern is, ‘Am I going to ace this gut course?’ It makes you feel like you’ve been taken out of one world and thrown back into it again.”

After she graduated from Barnard, she was hired by the New York Post, and later the New York Times, as a reporter. She became an Op-Ed columnist in 1981 — only the third woman in the paper’s history to do so — and found her niche writing about political and women’s issues from a highly personal viewpoint. Her Times column “Public & Private” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1992.

In spite of her success in journalism, she still harbored dreams of writing fiction. She had started writing novels while she was working on her column and raising her three young children. Her first two novels — Object Lessons (1991) and One True Thing (1994) — were so successful that she left the newspaper business in 1995 to become a full-time novelist.

Her newest book is Nanaville, about being a grandparent.

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