Rosellen Brown's characters move me to tears.

- Annie Dillard


Image of an old fashioned typewriterRosellen Brown has published ten books – novels, short stories, poetry, essays – and has lived in almost as many places – New York, Boston, San Francisco, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Texas and, currently, Chicago. After many years on the faculty of the University of Houston and more than a dozen summers leading the Spoleto (Italy) Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

She has one husband, two daughters, one grand-daughter, two cats, too many books (read and unread) on her sagging shelves, and lives in Mr. Obama’s Neighborhood, overlooking Lake Michigan.

About the Author

Rosellen BrownRosellen Brown has published widely in magazines and her stories have appeared frequently in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prizes.  One is included in the best-seller Best Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.

She has been the recipient of an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Bunting Institute, the Howard Foundation, and twice from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was selected one of Ms. Magazine’s 12 “Women of the Year” in 1984.  Some Deaths in the Delta was a National Council on the Arts prize selection and Civil Wars won the Janet Kafka Prize for the best novel by an American woman in 1984.


Half a HeartHalf a Heart, 2000.
A mother and daughter lose and find each other across a tangle of complications, racial, class-bound, and finally primal as they seek to regain a relationship that was stolen from them.

“Honest, brave, elegantly written…one of the best of this year.” Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune

“Like Jane Austin, she digs deeper and deeper into the territory she has staked out, always coming up with brilliant new jewels. In her books, Brown explores intimate family relationships while engaging social issues.” Laurie Muchnick, Newsday

Purchase Half a Heart


A Rosellen Brown Reader - Selected Poetry and ProseA Rosellen Brown Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose, 1992.
A miscellany in a series by writers associated with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.  Previously uncollected stories, poems, essays and an interview.

“This enjoyable collection….underscores the breadth of Brown’s talents, shedding light on the Brown oeuvre and the literary daredevil behind it.”  Newsday.

“I urge readers not to miss the Rosellen Brown Reader…(she) portrays with great immediacy the struggle to understand oneself and the surrounding world.”  Tess Lewis, New Directions for Women.

Purchase A Rosellen Brown Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose


Cora Fry's Pillow BookCora Fry’s Pillow Book, 1994.
Two books, the original Cora Fry and a sequel published 18 years later, in which a woman in small-town New Hampshire speaks, with New England wryness and understated eloquence,  about everything from her garden to her lonely marriage, the aging of her parents, her love for the only town she has known.

“…refreshing and genuine as an undiluted draught of water from a healing spring…Cora’s potent, true-blue, energetic voice will do no less than revive you. I count it among the absolute necessaries.”  Naomi Shihab Nye.

“Full of humor, truth, anger and tenderness…a novel stripped down to essences.”  May Sarton.

Purchase Cora Fry’s Pillowbook


Before and AfterBefore and After, 1992.
A boy, his parents and their town deal with an awful crime that calls into question parents’ responsibility for their children’s actions, and tests everything that binds a family and a community.

“A painful and exhilarating novel.”  Alice Munro.

“Powerful…This novel, for all its philosophical provocation and literary merit, is also an unabashed, read-until-dawn page-turner.”  Michael Dorris, New York Times Book Review.

Purchase Before and After


Civil WarsCivil Wars, 1984.
Years after their involvement in the Civil Rights movement, a family has to find a new footing and take in two children raised with dramatically different values.

“At a time when fiction by women seems perversely misunderstood, one can only hope that Civil Wars will be recognized as a brave and fine work…richly rendered.”  Lynne Sharon Schwartz, New York Times Book Review.

“Brown demonstrates remarkable insights into human relationships and scrutinizes ethical principles in crisis situations. Readers will (be) immersed in her gripping story, mesmerized by the questions she raises and by the brave, intelligent, compassionate manner in which she deals with them.”  Publishers Weekly.

Purchase Civil Wars


Tender MerciesTender Mercies, 1978.
A story that questions the nature of accident, of love, of commitment.

“A haunting novel…prose as masterful, and as moving, as any being written today.” Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review.

“A magnificent achievement…written with amazing authority, compelling beauty and immediacy.”  Tillie Olsen.

Purchase Tender Mercies


The Autobiography of My MotherThe Autobiograhy of My Mother, 1976.
Two generations of women locked in combat over a child, shadowed by two histories, their own and the twentieth century’s.

“A bitter, funny, stringently unsentimental novel of rare merit.” New York Times Book Review.

“As fluent and gripping as a dream.” Boston Globe.

Purchase The Autobiography of My Mother


Street GamesStreet Games (stories), 1991.
Neighbors on a block in gentrifying Brooklyn — Anglo, Puerto Rican, African-American, male, female, parent, child, speaking in a variety of moods and styles.

“An American classic.”  John Freeman, Chicago Tribune.

“A brilliantly written book that celebrates neighborhood over the sinful selling off of our cities; that celebrates the harsh or soaring language of the people in town, not the machine-talk of the commentators in the suburbs.”   Frederick Busch

Purchase Street Games (stories)

Some Deaths in the Delta & other poemsSome Deaths in the Delta & other poems, 1970.

Poems that refract two landscapes inner and outer, Mississippi in the inflamed ‘60s and the urban blight of Brooklyn, “a bill of damages, a totaling-up of the incalculable petty costs of living in perpetual opposition.”

“Rosellen Brown is successful because she refuses to allow commitedness to outweigh craft in the making of a poem. Her sensibility is as disciplined as it is radical. Other poets intent upon treating social issues might profit from reading her.”
Robert B. Shaw, Poetry

Purchase Some Deaths in the Delta & other poems


Rosellen Brown is available for readings and other appearances. Please contact her via email: