Robert Hellenga Biography
I grew up in Three Oaks, Michigan, a typical Midwestern small town, but I spent summers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my father, a commission merchant with a seasonal business, handled produce that was shipped there from what was then the world's largest farmers market, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The men who worked for my father were almost all Italians, and in retrospect I see that this is how I got my first sense of Italy as something opposed to small-town Midwestern Protestant culture - a theme that has shaped a lot of my writing, including Philosophy Made Simple.
My wife (Virginia) and I met at the University of Michigan, spent the first year of our marriage in Belfast, Northern Ireland, spent a year in North Carolina, and started having children when I was in graduate school at Princeton.
I've taught English literature at Knox College, in Galesburg, IL, since 1968. During my tenure at Knox I have directed two programs for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, one at the Newberry Library in Chicago and one in Florence, Italy, and I've spent a year at the University of Chicago on a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. We've spent quite a bit of time in Florence and Bologna, and in 2009 we spent six weeks in Verona, where I was a visiting writer at the university.
I started writing fiction at Knox, which has a strong creative writing program, published my first story in 1973 and my first novel (after 39 rejections) in 1994. Snakewoman of Little Egypt will be my sixth novel. The first five are: The Sixteen Pleasures, The Fall of a Sparrow,Blues Lessons, Philosophy Made Simple, and The Italian Lover.
I have three daughters, like King Lear, but unlike the Lears, we all get along. Rachel is the Director of Museum Exhibits and Eduction at the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, IL; Heather teaches fifth grade in Galesburg, IL; and Caitrine is a veterinarian in Glen Carbon, IL. My wife has recently retired from teaching Latin at Monmouth College.
This biography was last updated on 08/17/2010.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2000 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that
some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date,
inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors:
If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we replace the old with the new, including your website URL if relevant.