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Famous Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni

Updated July 17, 2019 19.8k views69 items

List RulesPeople 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

    Novelist, Author

    AgeDec. at 39 (1925-1964)

    BirthplaceSavannah, 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 reviews...  more
  • 2

    David Milch

    Television producer, Screenwriter


    BirthplaceBuffalo, 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) and...  more
  • 3

    Allan Gurganus

    Novelist, Screenwriter


    BirthplaceRocky 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 his...  more
  • 4

    Paul Lisicky

    Novelist, Writer



    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....  more
  • 5

    John Irving

    Novelist, Screenwriter


    BirthplaceExeter, 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 World...  more
  • 6

    AgeDec. at 39 (1963-2002)

    BirthplaceDublin, 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 childhood...  more
  • 7

    Bharati Mukherjee

    Professor, Novelist


    BirthplaceKolkata, 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 author of...  more
  • 8

    Ann Patchett

    Novelist, Author


    BirthplaceLos 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

    Author, Writer


    BirthplacePort 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 Here,...  more
  • 10

    Rita Dove

    Poet, Professor


    BirthplaceAkron, 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 African...  more
  • 11

    Charles D'Ambrosio

    Essayist, Writer


    BirthplaceSeattle, Washington


    Charles Anthony D'Ambrosio, Jr (born 1958) is an American short story writer and essayist....  more
  • 12


    BirthplaceCincinnati, 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 of My...  more
  • 13

    Wallace Stegner

    Environmentalist, Historian

    AgeDec. at 84 (1909-1993)

    BirthplaceLake 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 won the...  more
  • 14

    W. D. Snodgrass

    Poet, Author

    AgeDec. at 83 (1926-2009)

    BirthplaceBeaver 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....  more
  • 15

    Lewis Robinson



    BirthplaceNatick, 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

    Biographer, Novelist

    AgeDec. at 63 (1936-1999)

    BirthplaceLake Charles, Louisiana


    Andre Jules Dubus II (August 11, 1936 – February 24, 1999) was an American short story writer and essayist....  more
  • 17

    James Tate

    Poet, Professor


    BirthplaceKansas 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

    Poet, Author




    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 spent...  more
  • 19

    Charles Wright

    Poet, Professor


    BirthplacePickwick 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. From...  more
  • 20

    Laurel Snyder



    BirthplaceBaltimore, 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


    BirthplaceAlbany, Georgia


    Douglas A. Powell (born May 16, 1963 Albany, Georgia) is an American poet....  more
  • 22

    Nam Le





    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 published...  more
  • 23

    Raymond Carver

    Poet, Author

    AgeDec. at 50 (1938-1988)

    BirthplaceClatskanie, 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....  more
  • 24

    Steven Erikson

    Novelist, Author


    BirthplaceToronto, 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 his...  more
  • 25

    Vern Rutsala

    Poet, Writer

    AgeDec. at 80 (1934-2014)

    BirthplaceMcCall, 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