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About Merry Whiteford

Born on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Merry Whiteford was the third of four daughters of a naval officer and an antiques dealer. In 1977, after graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Merry attended Vassar College, Syracuse University, and the University of Michigan, earning her BA summa cum laude, and her MA in Philosophy from the University of Michigan (where she is still an ABD PhD).

Merry received numerous honors–was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, graduated summa cum laude, was awarded a National Resource Fellowship, received summer graduate fellowships, and was awarded a Regents Fellowship from the University of Michigan. She has worked on several National Endowment for the Humanities Programs, has been a teaching fellow and instructor in Philosophy at Syracuse University, the University of Michigan, and elsewhere, and for several years was a freelance writer for Gale Research, Detroit.

While at Syracuse University, Merry counted among her colleagues and friends the writers Raymond Carver (you can see her in Ray’s poem “My Boat”), Tess Gallagher, Tobias Wolff, and Douglas Unger, and there deepened her passion for the art of fiction. After years of teaching and working on her PhD in Philosophy, Merry began writing fiction full-time in 1989.

She has won a number of awards for her work–including the H.E. Francis Short Story Award, first place in the Writers Workshop International Short Fiction Contest, first place in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest–and a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation to support her in writing her third novel, If Wishes Were Horses (March 2003, St. Martin’s).

In 1995, Merry Whiteford married Neil Whiteford, manager at Ford Motor Company and Classical/Rock/Folk/Jazz violinist and session player. In 1998, they moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where they live in a turn-of-the-century townhouse and savor the ocean.

Quick Facts

Most interesting trip: Safari, rhino trek, & white-water rafting on the Zambezi
Most interesting pen pal: Paul Bowles
Most circular accomplishment? Studied 8 languages, speaks 3, writes in one.
Most interesting dance partner: Neil Whiteford
Most famous dance partner: Tom Cruise
Most dubious talent: Can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue
Most unusual relative: Stuart Little
Most unusual food ever eaten: Crocodile tail . . . or pigeon
Most unusual body part: Webbed toes


Copyright 2003  Merry Whiteford