Biography of Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is an award-winning writer and journalist from Sydney, Australia. After winning the Greg Shackleton Memorial Scholarship, Brooks moved to New York City and obtained her Master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University. Soon after graduation, she became a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Work brought her to many countries in crisis across the globe, allowing her to travel to Africa, the Balkans, and the Persian Gulf to report on the news directly at the source. Her dedication and strong resolve to tell a compelling story through her articles allowed her to receive the Overseas Press Club’s Hal Boyle Award for “Best Newspaper or Wire Service Reporting from Abroad” in 1990.

Brooks’ first book Nine Parts of Desire was released in 1994. It was a nonfiction bestseller, informing readers of cultural and religious practices in the Middle East and how these practices affect women. While Brooks wanted to show how some of these practices oppressed Muslim women, she was careful to show readers that Islam was not a misogynistic religion. Instead, she included many positive experiences where Muslim women rejoiced in their faith. Brooks’ second book Foreign Correspondence was more personal; this memoir followed Brooks as she recaptured her youth and tracked down her many childhood penpals. Foreign Correspondence won the Nita Kibble Literary Award for women’s writing that same year.

Brook’s first fiction novel Year of Wonders was published in 2001 and became an international bestseller. She tells the creative nonfiction story of one village’s mission to quarantine itself after being struck by the bubonic plague in 1666. It was inspired by the true story of Eyam, Derbyshire where, despite heavy losses, the town remained secluded in order to protect other villages and cities from the same fate. Year of Wonders follows Anna, a servant girl, as she deals with her dwindling faith and an increased interest in medicinal alchemy.

In 2005, Brooks released her second novel March which was inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Rather than retelling the story of the beloved four March daughters, Brooks decided to tell the wartime tale of Mr. March, who remained absent during most of Little Women. It was selected as one of the five best fiction works published in 2005 by the Washington Post, and in 2006 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Brooks published People of the Book in 2008 which chronicled the fictionalized history of the Sarahevo Haggadah, an illustrated manuscript that accompanies the Passover Seder. It won the Australian Book of the Year Award as well as the Australian Literary Fiction Award. Her 2011 novel Caleb’s Crossing follows the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. It was a New York Times best seller in 2011.

Brooks maintains a steady personal life and has been married to author and journalist Tony Horwitz since 1984.


Study Guides on Works by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague was written by author and journalist Geraldine Brooks. It was published in 2011 and was chosen as both a New York Times and a Washington Post Notable Book. This novel is based on the true story of the village...