Ellen Gilchrist Biography
(1935– ), In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, The Annunciation, Victory over Japan, Drunk with Love
American short-story writer and novelist, born in Grace, Mississippi, educated at Millsaps College; she later worked in a variety of journalistic occupations. Though Gilchrist began her writing career as a poet, it was the publication of her first volume of stories, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams (1981), that placed her in the ranks of noted Southern women writers, inspired by Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O'Connor, but more contemporary and less Gothic in tone. Her novel The Annunciation (1983) was followed by a second collection of short fiction, Victory over Japan (1984), which returned to the familiar Southern scenes of her first book; it was compared favourably with the work of Southern peers Anne Tyler and Ellen Douglas. Gilchrist excels in portrayals of Southern family life, through the perspectives of affluent middle-aged women, chronicling with zest and humour their affairs, preoccupations, and ambivalent relationships. Her third collection, Drunk with Love (1986), was praised for the limpid grace of its language, but her limitation of range and growing interest in ‘New Age’ terminology and thought, most particularly in the autobiographical Falling Through Space: The Author's Journals (1987) and the novel The Anna Papers (1988), the account of a cancer-ridden woman's celebratory suicide, has been less well received. I Cannot Get You Close Enough (1990) is a collection of linked novellas. Some of her best stories were collected in The Blue Eyed Buddhist in 1990.