Biography of Kathryn Stockett

Born in 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi, writer and editor Kathryn Stockett earned her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from the University of Alabama, then headed to New York City with plans to work in publishing. She spent nine years there, working in magazine publishing and marketing, before moving to Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives with her daughter (she divorced from her husband in 2011). Since moving back to the South, Stockett focused on writing fiction. Her debut novel, The Help, was published by Amy Einhorn Books in 2009, and proved to be one of the hit books of the summer season. Like her character Skeeter, Stockett struggled to make her breakthrough as a writer - her manuscript was rejected by over sixty literary agents before finally be accepted by Susan Ramer.

The Help garnered instant attention due to its unusual and rarely addressed subject matter: the relationship in the South between white families and black domestic servants in the 1960s. Having grown up during this period in Mississippi, Stockett was familiar with the dynamic, but nervous about addressing it in a novel, understanding that it was a controversial subject and could result in criticism from both reviewers and from general readers. In an interview with the website Bookreporter, Stockett explained her attitude as a child: "Growing up in Mississippi, almost every family I knew had a black woman working in their house--cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the white children. That was life in Mississippi. I was young and assumed that's how most of America lived." Only after she moved north did Stockett realize that her memories of her childhood were not a universal experience. She found herself reminiscing with other Southerners she met in New York, trading stories about growing up with black domestic help. Gradually, those memories began to spark an idea and she decided to write a story about her relationship with her family's maid when she was a child. Despite being very close to her maid Demetrie, Stockett never stopped to think about what Demetrie's life might be like outside of the work she performed for the white household. She wrote this novel to bridge the gap.

Study Guides on Works by Kathryn Stockett

Published in 2009, The Help tells the story of three women who work together to challenge the racial status quo of their day. In Jackson Mississippi in the 1960s, aspiring writer Skeeter Phelan gets a dangerous idea: to write a book about what...