Biography of Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison is a well-known feminist and Southern author whose intimate and personal writing focuses on the intersecting issues of gender, sexuality, and class.

Like Bone, the protagonist of her breakout novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison was born in Greenville, South Carolina; the first child of a poor, fifteen-year-old single mother. Also like Bone, Allison suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Allison had a difficult and unstable childhood, but she found success in academics, which allowed her to imagine a future for herself.

Allison attended Eckerd College on a scholarship. During her undergraduate years, she embraced the growing women's rights movement, feminist thought, and started exploring her sexual identity. After graduation, she held a series of jobs. Later, Allison completed a masters degree in anthropology at the New School in New York City.

Allison was first published in 1983 and her short story collection entitled Trash earned her two Lambda Literary Awards (which celebrate the work of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender authors). In 1992, Dorothy Allison published her most widely successful work, Bastard Out of Carolina, a semi-biographical study of poverty and abuse set in her hometown. In 1998, Allison published her second novel, Cavedweller, which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Dorothy Allison now lives in San Francisco with her partner and son. She is still writing and occasionally accepts visiting professorships from various universities.

Study Guides on Works by Dorothy Allison

Bastard Out of Carolina came out in 1992. It is Dorothy Allison's first novel and remains her most widely successful work to date. Although Allison was an established author within the gay and lesbian literary community, she gained widespread...