Jayne Anne Phillips ( ‘74 AB)
Jayne Anne Phillips, a native of Buckhannon, W.Va., graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
After graduation, she continued her studies with the University of Iowa Writers Program, recognized as the most prestigious writing graduate program in the country.
Phillips is now a professional writer with a national and international reputation.
In 1976, an edition of 24 one-page prose pieces of Phillips’ in a collection called Sweethearts was published and has subsequently gone into three printings.
Her short book, Counting, was published in 1978. Counting, a series of brief fictions about a writer and a dancer who live in New England, broke and starving while their relationship goes rancid, won the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction.
The following year, Black Tickets, a collection of Phillips’ short-stories was published. With its stories set in Appalachia and brimming with lonely hearts, criminals and terminal misfits, Black Tickets earned critical acclaim and sold in 12 countries.
Phillips first novel, Machine Dreams, was published in 1984. Set in Bellington, W.Va., it spans more than four decades and three generations of a local family against the backdrop of both World War II and Vietnam. Machine Dreams established Phillips as a preeminent American writer.
In 1987, Phillips published the short book, Fast Lanes, a collection of seven short stories.
Shelter, her second novel, was published in 1994 and has been defined as a remarkable literary achievement. Shelter explores the existence of evil through the eyes of four girls who spend the summer of 1963 at a Girl Guides camp in rural West Virginia.
Throughout her career, Phillips has taught at many colleges and universities including Harvard University, Boston University, Brandeis University, Williams College, Oberlein College and Humbolt State University. She has been a visiting lecturer at many universities and has traveled on book tours to cities across the United States and Europe.
She has received fellowships from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Her many awards include a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Best Novel; selection as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year in 1984 by the New York Times Review for Machine Dreams; and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction for Black Tickets from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1979.