-- Bio --

Elizabeth Hand



Born March 29, 1957, the oldest of five children in a large, mostly Irish Catholic clan. Grew up in Yonkers and Pound Ridge, NY, before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1975 to study playwriting and cultural anthropology at Catholic University. Worked for a number of years at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum. In 1988 I moved to a small town on the Maine coast with my former partner, novelist Richard Grant, father of my two teenage children. I continue to live in Maine with my longtime partner, the UK critic John Clute.

I describe myself as a visionary writer, with a longstanding interest in outsider artists, the subjects of much of my short fiction as well as my most recent novels, the forthcoming psychological thriller GENERATION LOSS, about an emotionally damaged proto-punk photographer, and 2004’s MORTAL LOVE, inspired by the life and work of the schizophrenic Victorian fairy painter Richard Dadd. I had my own encounter with the numinous in November 1974, when I had an epiphanic vision of a Dionsyian figure I named “the boy in the tree.” Several years later, on St. Patrick’s Day 1978, I was abducted and raped while visiting my boyfriend in Washington, D.C. These two experiences, one of inexplicable transcendence, the other of random human violence, have shaped nearly all of my fiction.

My novels and short stories are highly autobiographical and draw deeply on the places I’ve lived and loved most. These include Yonkers (yes, Yonkers!) in particular my grandparents’ sprawling home overlooking the Hudson River ( See pics and the Illyria backstory here >>), the model for Fairview in my recent short novel ILLYRIA, and Lazyland in GLIMMERING (1997); Pound Ridge (where my father has been the town justice since 1972) and the neighboring small town of Katonah, which became Kamensic Village, a place that is back-or foregrounded in much of my work; Washington, D.C., where I lived for many years, and where the fictional Univertsiy of the Archangels and St. John the Divine (inspired by my alma mater) is located; North London, especially the area surrounding Camden Town; and the rural coast of Maine, where I’ve lived for the last 19 years (see right) and which has been the setting for my most recent work, including GENERATION LOSS and the novellas “Winter’s Wife” and “The Least Trumps.”

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