Bobbie Ann Mason was raised on her family’s dairy farm in Mayfield, Kentucky. Mason received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky in 1962. At UK, she was a staff member of the Kentucky Kernel and wrote a weekly satirical column. Gurney Norman was one of her first inspirations as a writer. She took creative writing courses from Robert Hazel, who was a mentor to a cluster of writers — including Norman, Wendell Berry, James Baker Hall and Ed McClanahan — who all made their way back to UK to teach in the Department of English. She earned her master’s from Harpur College at Binghamton University in 1966, and after finishing her doctorate in literature at the University of Connecticut in 1972, she turned to writing fiction. In 1980, during a period of renaissance of the short story, The New Yorker magazine began publishing her fiction.
Mason’s first book of fiction, “Shiloh & Other Stories,” won the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her first novel, “In Country,” was made into a Norman Jewison film starring Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd. She has received the Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her writing has won the Kentucky Book Award and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. Mason is former writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky (2001-2011). Her most recent novel, “The Girl in the Blue Beret,” ventures into World War II and the ways it is remembered.