Biography of Sandra Cisneros


Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American writer. Her father Alfredo Cisneros was born in Mexico, but he left when he failed at school, and did not want to face his father. Subsequently, he came to the United States with his brother. A few months later, he met Elvira, Sandra’s mother, and stayed in Chicago to start his large family. Sandra Cisneros was born on December 20, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois. She is the only girl in a family of seven children which inspired the fairytale “Six Swans” where the six brothers are turned into swans and the only person who can save them is their sister. Since, Sandra’s grand-parents were still in Mexico, the whole family had to go there once in a while. As we can see from this quote it seemed to be difficult for her. “As a result, we returned like the tides, back and forth to Mexico City. Each time we returned to Chicago, we had to find a new place to live, a new school” (Binder 55-56).

  Her mother, Elvira Cisneros, really influenced Sandra intellectually; she used to take her daughter and her six sons to the neighbourhood library, where Sandra would read for hours. A funny fact is that Sandra’s mother made sure, her daughter had her library card even before she knew how to read.  In a recent interview Sandra said that when she was young, libraries were her refuge. Now, she is concerned about them closing because they can inspire other youngsters (Adelson 55).

Today, Sandra Cisneros is trying to help libraries by giving conferences and attending meetings at the Friends of Libraries U.S.A. for the purposes of assisting with fund raising. Nowadays, this prolific author is still doing community work as a fundraiser and advisor for community organizations, which means that even if she won many awards she is still close to her community. Moreover, she became a peace activist, and worked to end capital punishment. Working for the community makes her even more remarkable and admirable.  

Sandra Cisneros discovered at a very young age that she wanted writing to be part of her life. In 1972, she had her first publication in the Josephinum Catholic High School’s literary journal, from which she was also the editor. In the same year she entered Loyola University from which she graduated in 1976. Then, she entered University of Iowa writer’s workshop, and graduated two years later with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.  

In her life Sandra Cisneros received many awards.  In1982, she received her first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA Grant); during the same year she also worked to complete the book The House on Mango Street, in 1984 it was published and in 1985 she received The Before Columbus Book Award. In 1987 she was given a second NEA grant.   In 1998 she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center museum. Many of her works were anthologized in 1998 and 1999, and she obtained the McArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship. Finally, Sandra Cisneros is the first Chicana to enter the mainstream of literary culture. From my point of view, Sandra Cisneros is more than a prolific author, she is an inspiration for all the generation to come.


Main Works

·        Bad Boys (1980)

·        The House on Mango Street (1984)

·        The Rodrigo Poems ( 1985)

·        My Wicked, Wicked Ways ( 1987)

·        Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991)

·        Caramelo (2003)


Academy of American Poets -- Biographies of American Poets, 2006, p480-480, 1p

Adelson, B.H.. Library Journal, 1/1/92, Vol. 117 Issue 1, p55, 1p, 1bw.

Brackett, V. Home in the Heart: The Story of Sandra Cisneros, 2005, p84-96, 13p, 2bw

Ganz, Robin. MELUS, Spring94, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p19, 11p

Sandra Cisneros, 207:, November 17, 2007