Year
1955

Barbara Kingsolver is born

American writer Barbara Kingsolver was born on this day near Annapolis, Maryland.

Kingsolver grew up in rural Kentucky. After high school, she left Kentucky to attend DePauw University in Indiana. After graduating in 1977, Kingsolver worked in Europe, then returned to the U.S., where she worked as a biologist and freelance journalist. Her first novel, The Bean Trees, was published in 1988, followed by Animal Dreams (1990) and Pigs in Heaven (1993). All three explore such social and political issues as feminism, environmentalism, and Indian tribal rights through stories about struggling women in the American Southwest.

In 1998 Kingsolver released what would become her best-selling and most acclaimed novel, The Poisonwood Bible. A selection of Oprah’s Book Club, The Poisonwood Bible would go on to become a finalist for the Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner awards. Subsequent novels include Prodigal Summer (2000) and The Lacuna (2009).

In 2000, Kingsolver was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Clinton. The award honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.

Kingsolver, a mother of two, lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, an ornithologist, and has also published volumes of poetry and essays.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

WPA established by Congress

On April 8, 1935, Congress votes to approve the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a central part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” In November 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Governor Roosevelt of New York was elected the 32nd president of the ...read more

Kenyatta jailed for Mau Mau uprising

Jomo Kenyatta, leader of the Kenyan independence movement, is convicted by Kenya’s British rulers of leading the extremist Mau Mau in their violence against white settlers and the colonial government. An advocate of nonviolence and conservatism, he pleaded innocent in the highly ...read more

Aaron sets new home run record

On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers. A crowd of 53,775 people, the largest in the history of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was with Aaron that night to cheer when he hit a 4th ...read more

Weyand reports to Congress

After a weeklong mission to South Vietnam, Gen. Frederick Weyand, U.S. Army Chief of Staff and former Vietnam commander, reports to Congress that South Vietnam cannot survive without additional military aid. Questioned again later by reporters who asked if South Vietnam could ...read more

North Vietnamese forces open a third front

North Vietnamese 2nd Division troops drive out of Laos and Cambodia to open a third front of their offensive in the Central Highlands, attacking at Kontum and Pleiku in attempt to cut South Vietnam in two. If successful, this would give North Vietnam control of the northern half ...read more

California road race kills five

On this day in 1916, at the Boulevard Race in Corona, California, an early racing car careens into a crowd of spectators, killing the driver and two others. At the time, racing events were still a relative rarity and the fatal accident helped encourage organizers to begin ...read more

McCarthy publicly attacks Owen Lattimore

Senator Joseph McCarthy labels Professor Owen Lattimore “extremely dangerous so far as the American people are concerned” in a carefully worded public speech, but stops short of calling him a Soviet spy. The speech was yet another example of McCarthy’s ability to whip up damaging ...read more