Annie Proulx

On this date in 1935, novelist Edna Ann Proulx (rhymes with prew) was born in Norwich, Conn., to Lois (Gill) and George Proulx, parents of English and French-Canadian ancestry. Her maternal forebears came to America 15 years after the Mayflower in 1635.

After living in North Carolina and elsewhere with her family, she graduated from high school in Maine and briefly attended Colby College, where she met her first husband, marrying in 1955 at age 20. She graduated with a B.A. degree in history in 1969 from the University of Vermont and an M.A. degree from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) in Montreal in 1973.

Proulx worked as a freelance journalist in Vermont after abandoning a Ph.D. program. She had married twice more after divorces and had a daughter and three sons. She published her first novel, Postcards, when she was 56 in 1992. The next year she published The Shipping News, which brought her acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. It was adapted as a film in 2001.

She won the O. Henry Prize for the year’s best short story in 1998 for “Brokeback Mountain,” which had appeared in The New Yorker. It was adapted as a movie in 2005 and won several film industry awards, including the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, co-written by Larry McMurtry.

She moved to Wyoming, the setting for “Brokeback Mountain,” in 1994 and continued to write. She’s the author of eight books, the latest as of this writing, Barkskins, in 2016 after moving to Washington state. In 2017 she received the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature.

In 2003 she told The Guardian newspaper that apart from “bouts” of Sunday school, religion really hasn’t been a factor in her life. She was not impressed by the worship services that had attracted her mother and sisters in North Carolina: “I was already ‘inoculated’ and too old to catch religious fervour. … I’m an admirer of self-reliance and the natural world and people who can get along in it.”

In Wyoming she had no time for the evangelicals she encountered: “Very bigoted, extremely right-wing and full of hatred for people who are not like they are.”

PHOTO: Proulx in 2018 at the National Book Festival; photo by Fuzheado under CC 4.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation