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Joyce Carol Oates
Oates in 2014
Oates in 2014
Born June 16, 1938 (1938-06-16) (age 83)
Lockport, New York, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, literary critic, professor, editor
Nationality American
Period 1963–present
Notable awards 1967 O. Henry Award
1970 National Book Award
1973 O. Henry Award
2010 National Humanities Medal
2012 Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement
  • Raymond J. Smith
    (m. 1961; died 2008)
  • Charles Gross (m. 2009)

Joyce Carol Oates (born June 16, 1938) is an American writer. Oates published her first book in 1962 and has since published over 40 novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, two O. Henry Awards, and the National Humanities Medal. Oates has taught at Princeton University since 1978 and is currently the Roger S. Berlind '52 Professor Emerita in the Humanities with the Program in Creative Writing.

Early life and education

Oates was born in Lockport, New York.

Oates attended the same one-room school her mother attended as a child. She became interested in reading at an early age and remembers a gift of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) as "the great treasure of my childhood, and the most profound literary influence of my life. This was love at first sight!"

In her early teens, she devoured the writing of Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Henry David Thoreau. Oates began writing at the age of 14, when she was given a typewriter.

Oates later transferred to several bigger, suburban schools and graduated from Williamsville South High School in 1956, where she worked for her high school newspaper. She was the first in her family to complete high school. As a teen, Oates also received early recognition for her writing by winning a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.

Awards and honors

National Humanities Medal cropped
National Humanities medal


  • 1955-1956: Scholastic Art & Writing Award
  • 1967: O. Henry Award
  • 1968: M. L. Rosenthal Award, National Institute of Arts and Letters
  • 1970: National Book Award for Fiction
  • 1973: O. Henry Award
  • 1988: St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates
  • 1990: Rea Award for the Short Story
  • 1996: Bram Stoker Award for Novel
  • 1996: PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Art of the Short Story
  • 2002: Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award
  • 2003: Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement
  • 2005: Prix Femina Etranger
  • 2006: Chicago Tribune Literary Prize (Chicago Tribune)
  • 2006: Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Mount Holyoke College
  • 2007: Humanist of the Year, American Humanist Association
  • 2009: Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement, NBCC
  • 2010: National Humanities Medal
  • 2010: Fernanda Pivano Award
  • 2011: Honorary Doctor of Arts, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2011: World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction
  • 2012: Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection
  • 2012: Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, Oregon State University
  • 2012: Norman Mailer Prize, Lifetime Achievement
  • 2013: Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection

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