Sena Jeter Naslund was born in Birmingham, Alabama; her mother taught music
and her father, who died when she was 15, was a doctor; she has two older
brothers. In high school she played cello with the Alabama Pops Orchestra.
She won a music scholarship to the University of Alabama but turned it down in
favor of studying writing at Birmingham-Southern College. While she was there
she attended the Breadloaf Writers' Conference - a two week series of lectures,
workshops and classes (since 1926, the conference has been held annually at the
Breadloaf Inn, Middlebury, Vermont and claims to be the oldest writers'
conference in the USA).
After graduating from Birmingham-Southern, she was accepted at the Iowa Writers'
Workshop at the University of Iowa where she received her MA and PhD degrees in
creative writing. In 1971 she was hired as a Visiting Professor in the MFA
program at the University of Montana. The following year, she accepted a
teaching position at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, where she
directed the creative writing program and was awarded the university's first
Distinguished Teaching Professor honor.
She is currently Writer in Residence at the University of Louisville, program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing, and Kentucky Poet Laureate. She is also the editor of The Louisville Review and the Fleur-de-Lis Press (both founded by her in 1976).
She is the author of the novels Sherlock in Love (1993), The Animal Way to Love (1993), Ahab's Wife (1999), Four Spirits (2003), Abundance (2006); and two collections of stories: Ice Skating at the North Pole (1989) and The Disobedience of Water (1997).
She lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband John C. Morrison, an atomic physicist, and their daughter, Flora.
Did you know? Marie Antoinette did not originate the expression "Let them eat cake", and there's no historical evidence she even said the words "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche". The expression, as an illustration of the decadence of French aristocracy, had been in use since at least 1740.
The British Royal Family today might complain (and with good reason) that their privacy is too often invaded by telephoto lenses and the like, but they should take some comfort in the fact that they are at least allowed to eat in peace when not on public duty, and give birth without a cast of thousands present - whereas Marie Antoinette and her husband dined in public (with anyone decently dressed allowed to watch) and hundreds of courtiers watched the birth of her first child.
Marie Antoinette's life in the form of a lifeline (at the risk of stating the obvious, it contains plot spoilers!)
Portraits of Marie Antoinette.
This article was originally published in October 2006, and has been updated for the
May 2007 paperback release.
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