Nancy Farmer: Biography

Nancy Farmer

07 jul 1941

Nancy Farmer was born in Phoenix, Arizona on July 7, 1941 and was educated at Reed College, Portland where she gained a BA which was followed years later by a degree in science at University of California, Berkley. She worked in the Peace Corps in India and Africa for a time and later as a scientist both in Africa and in the USA. She is known internationally as a writer of books for children and young adults.

As a young person growing up, Nancy Farmer lived a very unconventional and colourful life which saw her working in her parent’s hotel as a child, meeting a variety of unusual characters and being very much left on her own to explore life. After leaving university, she went to work in India as a member of the Peace Corps and later went to Africa as a scientist and there she lived for many years.

As a child she was a voracious reader and her appetite was fed by the many books found in her home and those from the library. Undoubtedly, all this helped to fire her imagination and creativity, both of which are evidenced in her books which also reflect her years living in India and Africa where some of them are set.

Although she used to write her own newspaper as a child, strangely enough, Nancy Farmer did not start writing books until she was about forty and she admits to teaching herself to write fiction by repeatedly reading and analyzing the work of others. Her first book, Lorelei, appeared in 1987 and was followed up by several other titles, many of which were Newbery honor books and some won the annual National Book Award in the USA, among other prizes.

Farmer is a prolific author who has also written several short stories appearing anthologies. Farmer’s books range from picture to chapter books as well as full-length novels and they fall within the realistic, fantasy and science fiction genres. Her books have been translated into twenty-six languages.

Nancy Farmer is married to whom she met in Zimbabwe and married within a few weeks. They now live in California and they have one son named Daniel.