Elizabeth Spencer

Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Author's Bio

Elizabeth Spencer was born in Carrollton, MS. She received an M.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1943. Her first novel was published in 1948; eight other novels followed. Spencer has published stories in The New Yorker, Atlantic, and other magazines. She went to Italy in 1953 on a Guggenheim, and met her future husband, John Rusher. In 1986 they moved to Chapel Hill, where Spencer taught writing at UNC until 1992. Her most recent book is Starting Over: Stories. Her other titles include The Southern Woman: Selected Fiction, The Voice at the Back Door, The Salt Line, The Night Travellers, and The Light in the Piazza, made into a movie in 1963 and was premiered as a musical production on Broadway in spring 2005. It received very good reviews, and won six Tony Awards in June 2006. She is a member of the American Academy of Årts and Letters, and a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Spencer’s writing has received numerous awards, including the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2007 she received the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction. Her latest award is the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, The 2013 Rea Award for Short Fiction. The Southern Woman: Selected Fiction (Modern Library, 2001), has recently been released as a Modern Library trade paperback. A documentary film has now been produced on her life and work. It is titled Landscapes of the Heart: the Elizabeth Spencer Story, and is now available forshowing. Please see her web site: www.elizabethspencerwriter.com for more information.

Publications and Prizes

Landscapres of the Heart--Memoir
(Random House, 1995)
, Starting Over
(Liveright, 2014)
, The Light in the Piazza
(University of Mississippi Press, 1996)
, The Snare
(University of Mississippi Press, 1993)
, The Southern Woman
(Random House, 2001)
, The Voice at the Back Door
(Louisiana State University Press, 1994)
Atlantic Monthly, Southern Review, New Yorker
Prizes Won: 
Recognition Award, American Academy of Arts & Letters, 1952 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 1953 Kenyon Review Fiction Fellowship, 1956-57 First Rosenthal Award, American Academy, 1957 McGraw-Hill Fiction Fellowship, 1960 Donnelly Fellowship, Bryn Mawr College, 1962 Bellaman Award, 1968 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1983 Award of Merit Medal for the Short Story, American Academy, 1983 Election to the American Institute (now American Academy) of Arts & Letters, 1985 National Endowment for the Arts Senior Fellowship in Literature Grant, 1988 Salem Award for Distinction in Letters, Salem College, 1992 John Dos Passos Award for Literature, 1992 1994 North Carolina Governor's Award for Literature, 1994 Charter Member Fellowship of Southern Writers, 1987; Vice- Chancellor. 1993-1997. 1997 J. William Corrington Award for fiction, Centenary College, Shreveport, LA 1997 Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award for Fiction 1998 Fortner Award for Literature, St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, N.C. 1999 Mississippi State Library Association Award for non-fiction 2001 Cleanth Brooks Medal for achievement awarded by the Fellowship of Southern Writers 2003 State of Mississippi--Life-time achievement award 2010 PEN/Malamude Award for the Short Story 2013 Rea Award for Short Ïiction

Personal Favorites

What I'm Reading Now: 
The Longest Journey by E..M. Forster
Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash

More Information

Listed as: 
Fiction Writer
Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
Scotch-Irish American
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Raised in: 
Carollton, MS
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Last updated: Sep 08, 2015