Barbara Kingsolver - Bio

Renowned American novelist, essayist, poet and short-story writer Barbara Kingsolver often addresses important topics such as social justice, biodiversity and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments in her work.

Kingsolver’s most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible (1998), the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), a non-fiction account – co-written by her husband and her older daughter – of her family’s commitment to eat only food produced by themselves and their neighbors in southwestern Virginia. Her best-selling books also include:  The Bean Trees (1988), Homeland (1989), Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike (1989), Animal Dreams (1990), Another America (1992), Pigs in Heaven (1993),High Tide in Tucson (1995), Prodigal Summer (2000), Small Wonder (2002), Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands, with photographer Annie Griffiths Belt (2002), and The Lacuna (2009). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001.

Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association. Her most recent work, The Lacuna, is winner of The Orange Prize for Fiction. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Orange Prize, won the National Book Award of South Africa, and was named an Oprah Book Club selection. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes including the James Beard Award. In 2000 Kingsolver received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. In 1998 she established the Bellwether Prize for fiction.

Kingsolver’s books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She has contributed to more than 50 literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines.

Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. At various times in her adult life she has lived in England, France and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona before moving to a farm in southwestern Virginia where she currently resides with her family: her husband, Steven Hopp, who teaches environmental studies, and daughters Camille (a Duke graduate) and Lily.

No stranger to Duke, Barbara Kingsolver was the University’s 2008 Commencement speaker. She was also a keynote speaker for the North Carolina Festival of the Book, held at Duke and in Durham in 2006.