Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long
Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi
University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees
Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she
attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently
lives in Boston and New York.
Hoffman's first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff's magazine, American Review.
Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published over twenty novels, two books of short fiction, and ten books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte's masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Hoffman's advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod.
Hoffman's more recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, Skylight Confessions, a novel about one family's secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Hoffman's first novel.
Hoffman's work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay Independence Day, a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was made into a film starring Emma Roberts in 2006.
This biography was last updated on 04/02/2012.
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A Conversation with Alice Hoffman about The Marriage of Opposites
Though Camille Pissarro is globally known and celebrated, few people know this part of his history. What inspired you to write about Rachel Pizzarro? Where did you first learn about her?
I was at an exhibit of Pissarro's work at the art museum at Williams College. It was there I first realized he was a Jew and had been born in St. Thomas. I'd always assumed he was French, as he was one of the fathers of Impressionism. I then wanted to discover what else I didn't know. When I began reading about the scandal his mother's marriage had caused I knew I had found my story.
Your female protagonists are always formidable. How did you find and develop Rachel's voice?
Luckily, my characters come to me fully formed. After reading about Rachel she was alive in my imagination and she spoke directly to me.
The title of the novel The Marriage of Opposites could apply to almost any marriageor relationship, for that matterin the work. How did you select that title?
"The Marriage of Opposites" is an alchemical termto create any substance or circumstance one has to combine opposite materials, ...
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