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Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944, the only child of a traveling salesman for a starch company, and was raised in Mississippi and in Arkansas. He went to college at Michigan State University, where he met Kristina Hensley, to whom he has been married since 1968. Ford attended law school very briefly before entering the University of California at Irvine, where he received his M.F.A. in writing in 1970.
After publishing two novels, “A Piece of My Heart” (1976) and “The Ultimate Good Luck” (1981), Ford took a job writing for “Inside Sports” magazine. When the magazine was sold, he decided to write a book about a sportswriter; the resulting novel, published in 1986, received widespread acclaim: it was named one of five best books of 1986 by “Time” magazine. “The Sportswriter” was followed by “Rock Springs” (1987), a highly praised book of short stories, and in 1990 by a novel set in Great Falls, Montana, called “Wildlife”. His most recent novel, “Independence Day”, won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, the first novel ever to win both awards.
In addition to his steady production of fiction, Ford has also taught writing and literature at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, at Princeton University, and at Williams College.