Anne Tyler

American writer Anne Tyler is known for such award-winning novels as ‘The Accidental Tourist’ and ‘Breathing Lessons.’


Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941, Anne Tyler spent her childhood living in various Quaker communities. She published her first book, If Morning Ever Comes, in 1964, and cemented her standing as a literary star by the time Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant hit shelves in 1982. Tyler won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1988 novel Breathing Lessons, and has had several works, including The Accidental Tourist (1985) adapted to the big screen.

Early Years

Anne Tyler was born on October 25, 1941, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The oldest of four children of Lloyd Parry Tyler, an industrial chemist, and Phyllis Mahon Tyler, a social worker, she spent her early years in various Quaker communities. Primarily home schooled during that period, she began attending public school at age 11, after the family settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Tyler entered Duke University at 16, where her instructors included the writer Reynolds Price, and graduated after three years. Harboring some ambition to become an artist, she instead studied Russian literature at Columbia University, and worked in the libraries of Duke University and McGill University, before settling into writing full time. 

Literary Success 

Anne Tyler's first two books, If Morning Ever Comes (1964) and The Tin Can Tree (1965), set the tone for her ability to render emotionally complex characters with impressive detail. Subsequent efforts, including Celestial Navigation (1974) and Searching for Caleb (1975), also drew strong reviews. 

By the time of her ninth book, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), Tyler was a bona fide literary star. Her widely praised follow-up novel, The Accidental Tourist (1985), was made into a 1988 feature film, starring William Hurt and Geena Davis. That year she also published Breathing Lessons, a portrait of a sputtering middle-aged couple on their way to a funeral, which earned the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 

Tyler continued her steady output the following decade with novels such as The Ladder of Years (1995), and saw both new titles, like Saint Maybe (1991), and older ones, like Earthly Possessions (1977), adapted for the screen. Later books included Back When We Were Grownups (2001), Digging to America (2006) The Beginner's Goodbye (2012) and A Spool of Blue Thread (2015). 

Tyler has also penned several short stories, edited three anthologies and created two children's books (illustrated by one of her daughters). In 2016, as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare project, she delivered a clever retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, with the characters of Kate and Petruchio respectively transformed into a preschool teacher and a Russian lab scientist. 


Along with the Pulitzer, Anne Tyler has been honored with some of the literary world's most prestigious awards, including the 1986 National Book Critics Award for The Accidental Tourist. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1983. 

Tyler is closely associated with the city of Baltimore, Maryland, her home since 1967 and the setting of many of her books. She was married to Iranian-born psychiatrist and author Taghi Modarressi from 1963 until his death from lymphoma in 1997. Their two daughters, Mitra and Tezh, have gone on to careers in the arts.

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