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Author Information: Dorothy Allison

 
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Dorothy Allison (b.1949) was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who dropped out of the seventh grade to work as a waitress. Allison was raised in extreme poverty by her mother's family; she remembers "hiding out under the porch" so she could listen to her grandmother and aunt tell randy stories. Her childhood was scarred from the time she was five to eleven years old, when she was often beaten and raped by her abusive stepfather. Allison writes of her lasting sense of shame and guilt.

After attending Florida Presbyterian College on a National Merit scholarship, Allison joined a feminist collective when the radical women's movement surfaced in the early 1970s. "Feminism saved my life. It was a substitute religion that made sense." She did not try to see her family until 1981, when she chose to return to her roots.

She understands that her first book of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, (1983) "wouldn't have happened if I hadn't started talking to my mother and my sisters again." Her second book, Trash (1988), a collection of short stories originally published by small lesbian presses and alternative magazines won two Lambda Literary Awards. Four years later Allison received mainstream recognition with her autobiographical novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. Allison's fifth book, Cave Dweller, was published in 1998.

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