Biography of Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is an American novelist and essayist. She was born on December 2nd, 1963 in Los Angeles, California. After her parents divorced, her mother moved Ann and her sister to Tennessee; Ann was six at the time.

Patchett graduated from Sarah Lawrence with a B.A. in 1984, and she earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1987. She has held teaching positions at several colleges and universities, one of those positions being the Tennessee Williams Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of the South.

After spending time in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Patchett published her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, in 1992. It was well-received and turned into a television movie in 1997. In 1994, she won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her first novel was followed by others, all lauded: Taft (1994); The Magician’s Assistant (1997); Bel Canto (2001), which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award; Run (2007); State of Wonder (2011); Commonwealth (2016), an autobiographical novel; and The Dutch House (2019). Other honors and awards include the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award.

Patchett has also released a few works of nonfiction, including Truth and Beauty (2005), which was about her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy, who’d died of a drug overdose a few years prior. In 2019, she also released a children’s book, Lambslide.

Many people in the literary world know her for Nashville’s Parnassus Books, a bookstore she opened with friend and publisher Karen Hayes in 2011. The mission statement Hayes wrote for the store upon its opening testifies to its importance and why it is still, nine years later, so beloved: “Mt. Parnassus in Greek mythology is the home of literature, learning, and music. We will be Nashville’s Parnassus by providing a refuge for Nashvillians of all ages who share in the love of the written word. We will partner with and support local writers and artists, businesses and institutions. We will strive to bring readers the best books in literature, non-fiction, children’s books, local interest, and the arts in both printed and digital formats. We will provide venues for writers to connect with readers, and readers to connect with books. By doing this we hope to complement and add to the rich cultural character of the Athens of the South.”

Patchett lives with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky, in Nashville.


Study Guides on Works by Ann Patchett

On December 17, 1996, rebels stormed the Japanese embassy in Peru, taking hundreds hostage in an act of protest against the policies of Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori. Within days all but 72 of the hostages had been released, but it would not be...

The Dutch House is a novel by Ann Patchett, published in 2019. It tells the story of two siblings, Danny and Maeve Conroy, and how their abandonment as children leaves them reliant on each other.

The fictional Dutch House of the title is located...