Joy Williams: Biography

Joy Williams

11 feb 1944

Joy Williams is an American author. She has produced numerous short stories and essays, and four novels. Her debut novel, State of Grace (1973), was nominated for a National Book Award for Fiction. The Quick and the Dead (2000) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her other two novels include The Changeling (1978) and Breaking and Entering (1988). Her essay collection, Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Williams has also won the Rea Award for Short Story, the Harold and Mildred Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and other prizes.

Born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Williams is the daughter of a minister who preached at a Congregational church in Portland. She received a BA from Marietta College and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Williams has taught creative writing at the University of Houston, the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arizona. She was also the writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming in 2008-2009.

Williams met her first husband, Fred McCormack, when she was at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. They had one daughter, Caitlin. They divorced, and she married Rust Hills, fiction editor at Esquire. He adopted Caitlin and they remained married until his death in 2008. Williams has homes in Tucson and Florida, but divides her time among these homes and her daughter’s homes, and traveling on the road.