Marilynne Robinson was born in 1947 in Sandpoint, Idaho. After attending high school in Sandpoint she went to Brown University, graduating in 1966; she then enrolled in the graduate program in English at the University of Washington, where she started writing her first novel, Housekeeping (1981), which tells the story of two girls growing up in rural Idaho in the mid-1900s and is regarded by many as an American classic; it received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. After the publication of Housekeeping, Robinson began writing essays and book reviews for Harper’s, Paris Review, and The New York Times Book Review. She also served as writer-in-residence and visiting professor at numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Kent in England, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts.
Her second book, Mother Country: Britain, The Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution (1988), revealed the extensive environmental damage caused by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, in the north of England; the book evolved from an essay that she wrote for Harper's Review and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
A decade later, Robinson published a collection of essays entitled The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought.
Gilead, her second novel, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US in November 2004, won universal acclaim from critics, as well as the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at numerous universities, including the University of KentAmherst, and the University of Massachusetts. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
-- From the University of Iowa Alumni website