Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: Fiction
Competition: US & Canada
Valerie Martin was born in Sedalia, Missouri, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, her mother’s family home, where her father was a sea captain. She is the author of nine novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and Property, three collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, titled Salvation. In addition to the Guggenheim fellowship, she has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain’s Orange Prize (for Property). Martin’s latest novel, The Confessions of Edward Day, was a New York Times notable book for 2009.
Martin’s Guggenheim project, a novel, concerns events surrounding the ship Mary Celeste, which was found derelict off the Azores in 1872. Though the ship was in good running order, the crew had mysteriously vanished. Various attempts by both fiction and nonfiction writers to solve this famous mystery, including an early short story by Arthur Conan Doyle, have kept the story alive, but no satisfactory solution has ever been offered.
Valerie Martin has taught in writing programs at Mt. Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts, and Sarah Lawrence College, among others. She resides in Dutchess County, New York, and is currently Professor of English at Mt. Holyoke College.