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Bobbie Ann Mason
A Profile

While contemporary Kentucky writers and colleagues Wendell Berry, Gurney Norman, Ed McClanahan, and Jim Hall all traveled west for extended periods, Bobbie Ann Mason took an alternate route after her tenure as a University of Kentucky student.

Born near Mayfield, in the western part of Kentucky, Bobbie Ann had come east to UK, and she just kept heading in that direction. Her post-undergraduate path took her to New York City, where she indulged her interest in films by writing for movie magazines. Later she received her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, writing a dissertation on Vladimir Nabokov that evolved into the book Nabakov’s Garden.

Bobbie Ann’s more academic-leaning writings eventually gave way to the pursuit of fiction. And even though her eastward journey took her far away from the path that led her four male contemporaries to the Stanford writing program and other Western destinations, she always felt a connection among the five of them:

“I developed independently, but there was always a bond between me and the others I hadn’t actually known at UK,” she says. “And now I feel that there’s a kinship—this cluster of writers that came out of a certain place and certain kinds of experiences.”

—Tom Thurman