On this date in 1938, Joyce Carol Oates was born. She grew up in upstate New York, was valedictorian of her graduating class at Syracuse, and earned her Masters at the University of Wisconsin. She is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, poetry, short stories, literary criticism and essays. Several of her novels have been made into movies. Oates, one of the most recognized contemporary authors, has won numerous awards, including the O'Henry Prize for Continued Achievement in the Short Story, and the National Book Award. She has been twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oates was brought up in a Catholic family, and told Playboy (November 1993): "You're born Catholic and you're baptized, then you become a lapsed Catholic for the next 90 years. It's like an alcoholic--you're never not an alcoholic." She told The New York Times Magazine (Dec. 25, 1994): "I was never very religious." Oates is a professor at Princeton.