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Anthony Doerr | Biography


Early Life and Education

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Anthony Doerr grew up in Novelty, Ohio, not far from Cleveland, where he was born on October 27, 1973. Young Doerr and his two older brothers balanced an active outdoor life of fishing, riding bikes, and hiking in the woods with quiet time spent reading. In their home, books were everywhere, and Doerr's father ran a small printing company. Doerr fondly recalls being read to by his mother. Listening as she read British writer C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series (1950+) sparked in Doerr an interest in books, writing, and the magic of words.

Doerr attended Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college in Maine, where he majored in history and met his future wife, Shauna. He then returned to Ohio to earn his Masters of Fine Arts degree at Bowling Green State University.

Writing Career

In 2001 Doerr submitted a short story to the Atlantic Monthly and, with its acceptance, enjoyed his first success as an author. This quickly led to publication of his collection of stories, The Shell Collector (2002). Inspiration for the series of eight tales sprang from his childhood collection of shells, rediscovered one day while visiting his parents. His fascination with shells he attributes to his mother, a science teacher who encouraged her sons to learn about other living things.

The Shell Collector earned Doerr numerous awards, including the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Discover Prize, and two O. Henry Prizes, given to short fiction works. Doerr followed up this success with his first full-length novel, About Grace (2004), which was also well received. His next work, Four Seasons in Rome (2007), chronicles family life as he, his wife, and their twin baby boys, Henry and Owen, spend a year-long holiday in Rome. The author followed up this memoir with Memory Wall (2010), a collection of short stories about memory. Then he delivered his most acclaimed work to date, All the Light We Cannot See (2014), written over a 10-year period beginning in 2003. In addition to winning the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the novel earned Doerr the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards for Historical Fiction. The novel reached the top of the New York Times best-seller list and remained a best seller for 134 straight weeks.

Doerr's short stories and essays have won an impressive array of awards and have been anthologized in numerous collections. His written works have been translated into over 40 languages. Film rights for All the Light We Cannot See were acquired by 20th Century Fox in 2015.

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