Marilynne Robinson (nee Summers) was born and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho. She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1966 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1977. Her first novel, Housekeeping (1980), won the Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Since Housekeeping, Robinson has written three other highly acclaimed novels: Gilead (2004)—the 2006 All Iowa Reads selection, Home (2008), and Lila (2014)—this year's All Iowa Reads selection.
Spirituality is a recurring theme in Robinson's work. In a 2008 interview with the Paris Review, Robinson said, "Religion is a framing mechanism. It is a language of orientation that presents itself as a series of questions. It talks about the arc of life and the quality of experience in ways that I've found fruitful to think about."
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, described Robinson as "one of the world's most compelling novelists"...whose voice we "urgently need to attend to in both Church and society here (in the UK)."
Robinson's non-fiction works include Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998), and When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays (2012).
Marilynne Robinson has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. She has served as a deacon, and sometimes preaches, for the Congregational United Church of Christ. Robinson lives in Iowa City.