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Ellen Gilchrist Materials

Identifier: MC 1833

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

Collection includes correspondence, photographs, and book materials.


  • 1981-1990


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical Note

Ellen Gilchrist was born February 20, 1935, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, the second child and only daughter of William Garth and Aurora Gilchrist. Gilchrist attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where she received a B.A. in Philosophy. While attending Vanderbilt she met her first husband Marshall Walker, with whom she had three children. The couple later divorced and remarried. Gilchrist has also been married and divorced two additional times. In 1967, Gilchrist earned a B.A. from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. While studying at Millsaps College, Gilchrist was mentored by author Eudora Welty. Gilchrist attended the University of Arkansas for her post-graduate education, focusing on creative writing work. Gilchrist did various work reporting for the New Orleans Vieux Carré Courier from 1976 through 1979, the same year her first book, The Land Surveyor’s Daughter (Lost Roads, 1979), was published.

Gilchrist soon made a name for herself with her second book The Land of Dreamy Dreams (University of Arkansas Press, 1981). The book was a collection of short stories and sold over 10,000 copies in the first ten months. This book paved the way for a two book contract with the national publisher Little Brown and Company. Gilchrist achieved commercial success with her award-winning novel Victory over Japan (Back Bay Books, 1985). This book provided new opportunities for Gilchrist, including as a commentator for National Public Radio’s show Morning Edition. The commentary was published as Falling Through Space: The Journals of Ellen Gilchrist (University Press of Mississippi, 1987).

Through Gilchrist’s career she would recycle characters from her other books, including The Anna Papers (Back Bay Books, 1988) and I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting with My Daddy, and Other Stories (Back Bay Books, 2002). In 2000, Gilchrist became a visiting professor at the University of Arkansas, and joined the faculty as an associate professor of creative writing in 2001. After her work as an associate professor Ellen worked on her memoir, The Writing Life (The University Press of Mississippi, 2005) which discusses her battle against alcoholism and the troubles of teaching students the art of writing, and facing the stability of her family life. In 2008 she released the novel A Dangerous Age (Algonquin Books, 2008).

Gilchrist currently resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged topically.

Acquisition Information

The Ellen Gilchrist Materials were purchased by the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, Department on July 13, 2009, from Rhoda Faust.

Processing Information

Processed by Jordan Frankenburger; completed in September 2009.



Ellen Gilchrist Materials, 1981-1990
Jordan Frankenburger
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States