Janet Burroway

Wisconsin, United States

Member Since: 07/25/2012

Janet Burroway was born in Tucson, Arizona, educated in Phoenix and at the University of Arizona, Barnard College (A.B. cum laude), Cambridge University, England (B.A. with First Class Honors l960, M.A. l965), and at the Yale School of Drama (RCA-NBC Fellow 1960-61).  She has taught at the University of the State of New York, Harpur College; the University of Sussex, England; the University of Illinois; the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa; and the Florida State University at Tallahassee, where she is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita. Most recently she has taught in the MA/MFA Writing Program at Northwestern University.           

            She is the author of eight novels including Descend Again (Faber and Faber, London l960); The Dancer from the Dance (Faber l965 and Little, Brown, Boston l967); and Eyes (Faber l966, Little, Brown l966). The Buzzards (Little, Brown l969, Faber l970) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in l970, and Raw Silk (Little, Brown and Victor Gollancz, London l977) was runner up for the National Book Award in l977.  Opening Nights (Atheneum, New York, and Gollancz l985) was a Book of the Month Club alternate selection; Cutting Stone (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, and Gollancz, l992) was a New York Times Notable Book.  Her most recent novel, Bridge of Sand, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2009, was silver medalist in the Florida Book Awards and published in the UK. in 2013.

            Burroway's Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Ninth Edition, Addison Wesley Longman 2014) is the most widely used fiction writing text in America.  Imaginative Writing: the Elements of Craft, (Longman, Penguin, 2014) is in its fourth edition.  She is the author of children's books The Truck on the Track (Jonathan Cape, London l970, Bobbs-Merrill, Indiana l971), and, with John Vernon Lord, The Giant Jam Sandwich (Cape l972, Houghton-Mifflin, l973). Together with The Perfect Pig, these have been set to music by composer Philip Wharton. 

            Her book of poetry, Material Goods, was published by University Presses of Florida, l981, and a collection of essays, Embalming Mom, by University of Iowa Press in Spring 2002.  In 2005 Grove press brought out an edition of Robert Olen Butler’s lectures, edited by Burroway, From Where You Dream. Her memoir Losing Tim was published by Think Piece in 2014, and also in 2014 the collection of essays she has edited for University of Chicago Press, A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Over Sixty Reflect On Their Lives and Their Careers.

            Her poems, stories, and essays appear in Atlantic, Mademoiselle, New Statesman, The Guardian, MS, Story Quarterly, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner, Prague Review, Five Points, St. Petersburg Times, Ninth Letter, Narrative and New Letters, and in Pushcart Prizes XXVII.  She has reviewed for New Statesman, The World and I, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times Book Review.

            Her poems, plays and stories have been broadcast by BBC Radio and Television, Thames Television, ATV Television (all London), and National Public Radio in the U.S.  Her play for television Hoddinott Veiling went to the Monaco Festival as British ITV's entry.  She collaborated 1995-2000 with choreographer Lynda Davis on pieces for the stage, Dadadata, Text\tile, The Empty Dress, and Quiltings. An adaptation for radio of her novel Opening Nights (with Charles Olsen) was broadcast on WFSU radio in 1998. A play, Sweepstakes, was given staged readings at the Playwrights’ Centre of San Francisco, the Theatre of Yale Drama Alumni, and at the National Theatre Studio, London; and was produced by the Actors Repertory Theatre of Tallahassee.  Her one-act, Division of Property, was chosen by Lanford Wilson as winner of the 2002 Arts & Letters Award and produced by The Imago Festival at the Stella Adler Theatre in Los Angeles.  A new play, Parts of Speech, was given its initial reading with Jane Alexander in a staging by Edwin Sherin, and was featured at Women’s Playwright Initiative in Orlando in 2007.  Medea With Child was produced by the Bloomington (Indiana) Playwrights Project as recipient of the Reva Shiner Award, and by Sideshow Company in Chicago in 2010; her musical Morality Play was seen in concert in Chicago Feb. 2012.  She is a Network Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where she is at work on a play, Headshots.  She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Writing by the Florida Humanities Council in 2014.      

            She is married to film and Utopian scholar Peter Ruppert, and they live in Chicago, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Website: www.janetburroway.com

Twitter Username: @janetburroway


  • Losing Tim , Think Piece (April 7, 2014)
  • A Story Larger Than My Own , U. of Chicago Press (February 24, 2014)


  • Robert O Lawton Distinguished Professor(1993)
  • Florida Humanities Council Lifetime Achievement Award in Writing(2014)


  • Visiting Write at Writers Workshop, U. of Iowa (January 1980 - June 1980)
  • Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University (August 1972 - May 2002)


  • Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Barnard College (May 1958)
  • Master of Arts in Englsih Literature from Cambridge University, Cantab (June 1965)

Genres of Interest

Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Playwriting, Children's literature , Poetry