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