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Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni

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Updated July 17, 2019 15.8k views 69 items

List Rules People on this list must have gone to Iowa Writers' Workshop and be of some renown.

List of famous alumni from Iowa Writers' Workshop, with photos when available. Prominent graduates from Iowa Writers' Workshop include some of the greatest English language writers of the twentieth century. This list of distinguished Iowa Writers' Workshop alumni is full of recognizable and notable writers, like Flannery O'Connor and John Irving. This directory is not just composed of graduates of this school, as some of the famous people on this list didn't necessarily earn a degree from Iowa Writers' Workshop, but rather attended it for a spell.

This list answers the questions “Which famous writers went to Iowa Writers' Workshop?” and “Which top authors are Iowa Writers' Workshop alumni?”
1
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Author, Essayist

Age: Dec. at 39 (1925-1964)

Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia

Mary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist. She wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories, as well as a number of ...more

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The Best Flannery O'Connor Short Stories #62 of 302 The Best Novelists of All Time #6 of 177 The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

2
David Milch is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Television producer, Screenwriter

Age: 73

Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States of America

David Sanford Milch (born March 23, 1945) is an American writer and producer of television series. He has created several television shows, including NYPD Blue (co-created with Steven Bochco) ...more
3
Allan Gurganus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Screenwriter, Author

Age: 71

Birthplace: Rocky Mount, North Carolina, United States of America

Allan Gurganus is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose work, which includes Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and Local Souls, is often influenced by and set in ...more
4
Paul Lisicky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Writer

Age: 59

Paul Lisicky (born July 9, 1959) is an American novelist and memoirist. He is an associate professor in the MFA Program at Rutgers University-Camden, and the author of several books.
5
John Irving is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Screenwriter, Author

Age: 77

Birthplace: Exeter, New Hampshire, United States of America

John Winslow Irving (born John Wallace Blunt Jr.; March 2, 1942) is an American novelist and screenwriter. Irving achieved critical and popular acclaim after the international success of The ...more
6
Lucy Grealy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Writer

Age: Dec. at 39 (1963-2002)

Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Lucinda Margaret Grealy (June 3, 1963 – December 18, 2002) was an Irish-American poet and memoirist who wrote Autobiography of a Face in 1994. This critically acclaimed book describes her ...more

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#148 of 249 Famous Irish Americans #30 of 55 Famous Irish American Writers

7
Bharati Mukherjee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Professor, Novelist, Author

Age: 77

Birthplace: Kolkata, India

Bharati Mukherjee (July 27, 1940 – January 28, 2017) was an Indian American writer and professor emerita in the department of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She was the ...more
8
Ann Patchett is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Author, Writer

Age: 55

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Ann Patchett (born December 2, 1963) is an American author. She received the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction in the same year, for her novel Bel Canto. Patchett's other ...more
9
Adam Haslett is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Author, Writer

Age: 48

Birthplace: Port Chester, New York

Adam Haslett (born December 24, 1970) is an American fiction writer. He currently lives in New York City, New York. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled You Are Not a Stranger ...more
10
Rita Dove is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Professor, Author

Age: 66

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States of America

Rita Frances Dove (born August 28, 1952) is an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first ...more
11
Charles D'Ambrosio is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Essayist, Writer

Age: 61

Birthplace: Seattle, Washington

Charles Anthony D'Ambrosio, Jr (born 1958) is an American short story writer and essayist.
12
Curtis Sittenfeld is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist

Age: 44

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio

Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld (born 1975) is an American writer. She is the author of a collection of short stories as well as five novels: Prep, the tale of a Massachusetts prep school; The Man ...more
13
Wallace Stegner is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Environmentalist, Historian, Novelist

Age: Dec. at 84 (1909-1993)

Birthplace: Lake Mills, Iowa

Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909 – April 13, 1993) was an American novelist, short story writer, environmentalist, and historian, often called "The Dean of Western Writers". He ...more

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#673 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #185 of 341 The Greatest American Writers of All Time

14
W. D. Snodgrass is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Author

Age: Dec. at 83 (1926-2009)

Birthplace: Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

William De Witt Snodgrass (January 5, 1926 – January 13, 2009) was an American poet who also wrote under the pseudonym S. S. Gardons. He won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
15
Lewis Robinson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Lewis Robinson Writer

Age: 48

Birthplace: Natick, Massachusetts

Lewis Robinson is an American author. His first book, Officer Friendly and Other Stories, was published by HarperCollins in 2003. A graduate of Middlebury College and the Iowa Writer's Workshop, ...more
16
Andre Dubus is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Biographer, Novelist, Author

Age: Dec. at 63 (1936-1999)

Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana

Andre Jules Dubus II (August 11, 1936 – February 24, 1999) was an American short story writer and essayist.
17
James Tate is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Professor

Age: 75

Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri

James Vincent Tate (December 8, 1943 – July 8, 2015) was an American poet. His work earned him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He was a professor of English at the University of ...more
18
Robert Bly is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Author, Writer

Age: 92

Birthplace: Minnesota

Robert Bly (born December 23, 1926) is an American poet, essayist, activist and leader of the mythopoetic men's movement. His best-known prose book is Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), which ...more
19
Charles Wright is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Professor, Author

Age: 83

Birthplace: Pickwick Dam, Tennessee

Charles Wright (born August 25, 1935) is an American poet. He shared the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac. ...more
20
Laurel Snyder is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Laurel Snyder Writer

Age: 45

Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland

Laurel Snyder is an American poet and writer of children's books, including novels and picture books. She has also edited a number of literary journals and is a commentator for NPR's All Things ...more
21
D. A. Powell is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet

Age: 55

Birthplace: Albany, Georgia

Douglas A. Powell (born May 16, 1963 Albany, Georgia) is an American poet.
22
Nam Le is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Writer

Age: 41

Birthplace: Vietnam

Nam Le (Vietnamese: Lê Nam) (born 1978) is a Vietnamese-born Australian writer, who won the Dylan Thomas Prize for his book The Boat, a collection of short stories. His stories have been ...more
23
Raymond Carver is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Poet, Author, Writer

Age: Dec. at 50 (1938-1988)

Birthplace: Clatskanie, Oregon

Raymond Clevie Carver Jr. (May 25, 1938 – August 2, 1988) was an American short-story writer and poet. He contributed to the revitalization of the American short story during the 1980s.
24
Steven Erikson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Novelist, Author, Writer

Age: 59

Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Steven Erikson (born October 7, 1959) is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin, a Canadian novelist, who was educated and trained as both an archaeologist and anthropologist. He is best known for ...more
25
Vern Rutsala is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni
Vern Rutsala Poet, Writer

Age: Dec. at 80 (1934-2014)

Birthplace: McCall, Idaho

Vern Rutsala (February 5, 1934 – April 2, 2014) was an American poet. Born in McCall, Idaho, he was educated at Reed College (B.A.) and the Iowa Writers' Workshop (M.F.A.). He taught English and ...more