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Tillie Olsen was born in Nebraska in 1912 or 1913. The necessity of raising and supporting four children through "everyday jobs" silenced her for 20 years. Public libraries were her college. Among the colleges where she has taught or has been a writer-in-residence are Amherst College, Stanford University, M.I.T., adn Kenyon College. She is the recipient of five honorary degrees , and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lives in California.