|Birth Day:||June 18, 1937|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
She studied at the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop. She published her first literary work, The Perfectionists, in 1970.
Gail Godwin was born on June 18, 1937 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents, Kathleen Krahenbuhl and Mose Winston Godwin, were both from North Carolina, but visiting cousins in Alabama when Godwin was born. Godwin's parents divorced two years later. After the breakup, Gail and her mother moved in with her grandparents in Durham, North Carolina. They moved again to Weaverville, NC and then to Asheville, NC. Her grandfather died in 1939, so Godwin was raised by her mother and grandmother in Asheville, where they lived until 1948.
In 1948 Kathleen married Frank Cole, a World War II veteran, and moved the family to Virginia. Godwin was further inspired by her mother's determination to continue writing after having a second child. According to Godwin, much of her time growing up was spent in the newsroom, where her mother worked. She also witnessed her mother's plays and novels being rejected. Godwin's autobiography creates the impression that much of her own writing was intended to accomplish the things her mother could not. As Cole's salary increased and he was able to support the family, Godwin's mother focused on being a wife and homemaker, eventually not writing at all.
Godwin attended Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina from 1955 to 1957. She then transferred to University of North Carolina (UNC), where she attended from 1957 to 1959, graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism. While in college she worked on The Otherwise Virgins, a novel her mother had written, but was unable to find a publisher for. In 1959 Knopf sent an agent to UNC to scout young writers. Godwin submitted a portion of her novel Windy Peaks for their consideration. The story was about the staff and guests at a resort hotel in the mountains. Her manuscript was rejected. Godwin also worked as a waitress at Mayview Manor at Blowing Rock, North Carolina during her sophomore and junior years.
Godwin's first job out of college was at The Miami Herald, where she worked as a journalist for one year. There she met and briefly married photographer and co-worker, Douglas Kennedy. They were married in 1960 and divorced several months later in 1961. According to Godwin, she "worked very hard", but her stories were too "flamboyant" for the publication and she was fired. According to Contemporary Literary Criticism, she was incorporating too much human interest into the paper's stories, which were supposed to be factual. After briefly living with her mother again, Godwin moved to London to distance herself from a failed marriage and job.
While in England, Godwin took a course in creative writing at the City Literature Institute, where she met her second husband, psychiatrist Ian Marshall. They were married two months later. The marriage was brief and they were divorced in 1966. After their breakup, Godwin returned to the United States. At age 29, she took a job as fact-checker in New York City for The Saturday Evening Post. She said the job was embarrassing, because she wanted to be a writer, as opposed to fact-checking the work of others.
At this point, a distant uncle of Godwin's died, leaving her an inheritance of $5,000. She used the money to apply to the Iowa Writers Workshop and, after being accepted, to move from New York to Iowa City in 1967. There Godwin met her teacher and future mentor Kurt Vonnegut. At Iowa, Godwin worked as an instructor while earning an M.A. and Ph.D. from the same university in 1968 and 1971 respectively. She began teaching Greek Drama, before earning a position teaching literature. By age 30, Godwin had written three novels, but was unable to get any of them published.
According to The Asheville Citizen-Times, Godwin's first successful work was a 1969 short story in Cosmopolitan. Her first published novel was her dissertation written as graduate work at University of Iowa. It was published in 1970 and called The Perfectionists. The story was based loosely on Godwin's second marriage. It was accepted by Harper & Row in December 1968, while Godwin completing her graduate work. From 1971 on, Godwin earned a living through her work as a writer and augmented her income by means of intermittent teaching positions.
After completing her graduate work in 1971, Godwin spent two months at the Yaddo artist's colony in Upstate New York in 1972. There she wrote 100 pages of a novel called The Villain, which was never published. The work was scrapped, but ended up being part of the basis for The Odd Woman. According to author Jane Hill, it was while working on The Odd Women that Godwin transitioned from linear narratives to more complex structures where the plot interweaves past and present events.
By 1976 Godwin was a successful writer and novelist who had published three books: The Perfectionists, Glass People, and The Odd Woman. The Odd Woman was the longest and most widely recognized of the three. Several short stories by Godwin were published in prominent magazines like Harper's Esquire, Ms. and the Paris Review, where she was often featured on the cover. Godwin was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975–76) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1975–76).
By 1980 Godwin's writing had become the subject of essays, book chapters and other literary analysis from academic critics. According to The Washington Post, "Gail Godwin has been accused of not being able to decide whether she's a popular or a literary writer, but she's certainly accrued enough bestsellers and literary honors to claim both identities." Much of the scholarly attention on her works comes from those critics with an interest in southern or feminist authors. According to Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South, Godwin's books have been "widely and favorably reviewed". Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers states that "although some reviews of her work have been mixed ... her books are accomplished works of fiction, if not masterpieces."
According to The Intellectual in Twentieth-Century Southern Literature, Godwin was unusual in that she was a popular novelist that was also working in academia. Godwin taught at the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Studies from 1971 to 1972. During her time as an author, she was also a lecturer at the Iowa Writers' Workshop (1972 to 1973), Vassar College (1977), and Columbia University (1978/1981). She acted as chair of the fiction panel for the National Book Awards in 1986 and 2008. In 1989, Godwin also founded a small publishing house called St. Hilda's Press. It published religious texts not printed by more commercialized publishers. She later became a Distinguished Alumna of the University of North Carolina and the University of Iowa.
During the years 1982 to 1991, Godwin produced another collection of short fiction and four more novels. According to Publishers Weekly, it was A Mother and Two Daughters (1982) and A Southern Family (1987) that substantially expanded her readership. These novels remained on bestseller lists for an extended period of time. Godwin's earlier works had sold an average of less than 8,000 copies, while A Mother and Two Daughters sold more than 1.5 million. It was the most popular of Godwin's early works and the first time she had written a narrative from the point-of-view of multiple characters. In 1987, Godwin was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for her work on The Southern Family.
Godwin had no relationship with her father, until the two re-connected at her high school graduation. Godwin's father then offered to pay for her college education. During her junior year in college, Godwin moved in with her father, who committed suicide later that year. Godwin's uncle and a half brother later committed suicide as well. Her mother died in a car accident in 1989.
By 1999 Godwin had published ten novels. In 2001, Godwin's partner, Robert Starer, died and she began writing a fictional story based on their life called Evenings at Five that was published two years later. In November 2004 Godwin signed a contract with the publisher Ballantine Books for her next four books.
It was at Yaddo that Godwin met composer Robert Starer and began a life partnership with him that lasted until his death in 2001. They moved to Stone Ridge, New York in 1973 and later built a house in Woodstock, New York, where Godwin continued her work from home. In addition to her books and short stories, Godwin wrote libretti for ten of Starer's musical compositions.
Kirkus Reviews said Godwin had "a couple of subpar efforts," until publishing Queen of the Underworld in 2006. Flora (2013) became one of her better selling books. Godwin also authored an autobiography, Publishing that appeared in 2015. The Los Angeles Times said her auto-biography was a "preemptive strike" after she was approached by an independent biographer. As of 2015, Godwin's published works have included 14 novels, two collections of short stories, three non-fiction works, and ten libretti.
USA Today said that the subjects covered in Unfinished Desires (2010) include "Mean girls. Lesbian kisses. Learning disabilities. Domestic violence. Alcoholism. [and] Roman Catholic nuns." According to The Times (London), Flora (2013) "encompasses most of the themes that have preoccupied [Godwin] throughout her career." It takes place in the South in the mid-1940s in the mountains, where a widowed schoolmaster raises his ten-year-old daughter. In a 2015 interview, Godwin says that her work has become less "angry". She said her early works showed a frustration with not being heard, and that her later books focuses on her enemies. Now she's working to understand "the villains' villains."
Currently, Gail Godwin is 85 years, 7 months and 12 days old. Gail Godwin will celebrate 86th birthday on a Sunday 18th of June 2023.
Find out about Gail Godwin birthday activities in timeline view here.