7 Famous Novelists Who Were College Professors

Famous Novelists College Professors

Ready for the start of a new college term this coming September? You’re probably thinking about affordable college tuitions, budgeting your finances, or choosing among globally-acclaimed colleges.

But maybe you’re also considering your college professors. If you’re a budding writer, then you’ll be surprised to learn that some of your favorite writers are, in fact, college professors!

Here are some famous novelists who also taught at colleges in the U.S.

Famous Novelists Who Were College Professors

Michael Cunningham

michael cunningham

image courtesy: theguardian.com

He penned the novel “The Hours”, which won a Pulitzer Prize and a PEN/Faulkner award in 1999. He was born in Ohio, but his family moved to California, where he grew up.

He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in English. He pursued his master’s at Iowa University, while writing award-winning novels like “By Nightfall”, and “The Snow Queen”, among others.

He once taught at Brooklyn College, but is now a senior lecturer at Yale University, under its creative writing program.

Zadie Smith

zadie smith

image source: theguardian.com

Smith is a native of London, and was born “Sadie”, but in a fit of inspiration, she changed her name to “Zadie” when she was just 14 years old.

She studied at King’s College in Cambridge, where she took up English literature. While there, she started writing short stories, which caught the attention of a publisher. She soon started writing her novel, “White Teeth”, which she finished during her last year in college.

Her third novel, “On Beauty” won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2006, and an Anisfield-Wolf Book award.

She taught fiction at Columbia University, before becoming a tenured professor over at New York University.

Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer

image by: nyblueprint.com

If you saw the heartwarming film, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” then you’ll want to thank this guy for his masterpiece.

He was born in Washington, DC, and has a brother who founded the famous strange travel website, Atlas Obscura.

Foer studied at Princeton University, where his professor was Joyce Carol Oates, another novelist. When she saw that he had writing potential, he pursued a writing career instead of continuing his studies at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

In 2008, he taught at Yale University, then at New York University, where he is currently the resident writer and a professor.

El Doctorow

ragtime el doctorow

image source: latimes.com

This late literary novelist was an award-winning writer who wrote “Ragtime” and other books. Born Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, he was called “one of America’s greatest novelists” by President Barack Obama.

He went to Kenyon College, where he studied philosophy. But he had a passion for the arts and had participated in theater performances. He worked on his graduate studies at Columbia University, then joined the army, and did many jobs upon his return.

He also taught at the University of California, Irvine, Sarah Lawrence College, Yale School of Drama, University of Utah, Princeton University, and New York University, where he had served as the Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of English and American Letters.

Edgar He died on July 21, 2015.

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

image courtesy: slate.com

No doubt, his name is familiar to you. His novels “Infinite Jest” and “The Pale King” gained international fame, with the latter winning the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Wallace was born in New York and had grown up in Illinois. Both his parents were professors, his father at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his mother at Parkland College.

He enrolled at Amherst College, where he studied English and philosophy. He was prolific and joined many clubs and studied a variety of other courses like mathematics and modal logic. He graduated summa cum laude from the school.

While writing his novels, he taught at many different colleges in the country. He taught at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, where he was known for being a tough professor of creative writing.

David died on September 12, 2008.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

image source: biography.com

She is known for her works “Sula” and “Beloved”, which got both the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award in 1988. And if you were already a literary buff at that time, you might have gone to see the movie adaptation in 1998, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.

She was born in Ohio, but racism forced her family to move out of the south. When she was 12 years old, she was baptized a Catholic and got the new name “Anthony”.

At Howard University, she enrolled in the English program. She studied her master’s degree at Cornell University.

Aside from writing, she also taught at Texas Southern University and at her alma mater. In her later years, she taught at the State University of New York and Rutgers University. She also worked at the University at Albany, SUNY. And from 1989 until she retired, she taught at Princeton University.

Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis

image by: litreactor.com

Although better known for her short stories, Davis is a published novelist with a taste for the bizarre, nontraditional, and rare.

She was born in Massachusetts, to a father who was an English professor and a mother who was a teacher and writer.

At Barnard College, she pursued her childhood love of writing, producing mostly poems. She used to teach at New York University, and now works at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Many of Davis’ works involve female professor characters, which she mostly got from co-workers.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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