Bobby Ann Mason’s Biography

by Kathy Jacques

 

Bobby Ann Mason was born in Mayfield, Kentucky in 1940. She was raised on the family farm with her brother and sisters (Book Club 1). When she was young, one of her hobbies was reading. She also liked to listen to popular music especially the “Hilltoppers” group, which was a quartet from Mayfield (Book Club 1). This group inspired Mason a lot: “[They] gave me the notion that somebody… from Kentucky could do something in the world” (Book Club 1). She decided to follow this group in many of their shows and she wrote and published bimonthly newsletters about them. Even at a young age, she was a very ambitious girl and already dreamed of traveling around the world. Another interesting fact about her is that she wrote her first novel at eleven years old and it was about the Beatles (Yow 3).

At the age of 18, she started a Bachelor in journalism at the University of Kentucky. She graduated 4 years later. In 1966, she decided to go to the State University of New York at Binghamton to do her M.A.. In 1969, during her Ph.D., she met Roger B. Rawlings and they got married (Champion 2). She finally got her Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Connecticut in 1972 when she was 32 years old (Book Club 1). She wrote “her dissertation about the novelist Vladimir Nabokov” (Book Club 2).

At the beginning of her career, Mason had a hard time writing novels so she decided to read the books she had read as a young girl and they inspired her to write about people where she comes from.

In 1960, Mason was a writer for the Mayfield Messenger and she was also an ideal publisher in New York. In her life, she has interviewed many famous people such as Fabian, Annette Funicelle, Ann Margaret and many others (Pickering 1401). In these same years, Mason also contributed to many magazines such as Movie Star, Movie Life and T.V. Star Parade. Bobby Ann was a writer, but she also had a career in other fields. From 1972 to 1979, Mason worked as an assistant professor of journalism and of literature at Mansfield State College in Pennsylvania. Finally, since 1980, she was a contributor to The New Yorker (Kirk 1).

Mason has written many works. She has published four collections of short stories, three novels, two critical works and many others (From the course notes). Her first novel In Country was published in 1985. Warner Brothers made a film version of that book in 1989 (Champion 2). Her second novel Spence + Lila was published in 1988. Finally, Feather Crowns, which is said to be her weakest work up to now, was published in 1993. She has also written three short story collections: Shiloh and Other Stories (1982), Love Life (1989) and Midnight Magic (1998) (Kirk 1-3). Many of the stories Mason wrote were published in The New Yorker magazine.

Mason mostly likes to write about European-American working class people from Kentucky, her native hometown. She says she likes to write about the ordinary people living in the country. In many interviews she gave, she mentioned that she liked to write about these people because: “there are more people living in the working classes in America than there are in the professions, and to ignore their stories is to ignore the fertile heartland of what makes that large nation tick” (Kirk 2).  When she writes, she uses the third-person singular, specific and concrete vocabulary and she writes in the present tense. That makes Mason’s work “immediate as the air we breathe” (Yow 1).

Mason has won, up to now, many different prizes such as the Hemingway award in 1983, the Pennsylvania Arts Council Grant in 1983 and in 1989, the Guggenheim fellowship in 1984 and many others (Kirk 1).

In 1990, Mason and her husband decided to move back to Kentucky (Champion 2). Today, she still lives in Kentucky with her husband and “she continues to publish stories and articles in the New Yorker about her home territory” (Book Club 3). 

 

Other of her important works:

-         The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist guide to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Their sisters (1975)

-         Nabokov’s Garden: A Nature Guide to Ada (1976)

-         Clear Springs: A Memoir (1999)

 

 

Interesting links:

            http://www.eiu.edu/~eng1002/authors/mason2/

            http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9097944/Bobbie-Ann-Mason

            http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/mason_bobbie_ann.html

 

WORKS CITED

 

Book Club @ Ket, Biography. 2007, Online, 7 Nov. 2007, Internet, 3p.  <http://www.ket.org/bookclub/books/2001_dec/bio.htm>

 

Champion, Laurie. Bobbie Ann Mason. Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth   Revised Edition, 2004. (Author Biography) (Took in the data base)

Kirk, Connie Ann. Bobbie Ann Mason Biography. Contemporary Novelists Vol 11, 2007, Online, 7 Nov. 2007, Internet, 4p. <http://biography.jrank.org/pages/4561/Mason-Bobbie-Ann.html>

Pickering, James H. Fiction 100, 11th Edition, New Jersey, Ed. Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007, p.1401.

 

Yow, Dede. Bobby Ann Mason (1940- ). Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story, 2000, p358-361, 4p. (Article) (Took in the data base)