Discipline: Literature – fiction

Mary Gaitskill

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Catskill, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2023

Mary Gaitskill was born in Lexington, KY. She has lived in New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Marin County, and Pennsylvania, as well as attending the University of Michigan, where she earned her B.A. in 1981 and won a Hopwood Award.

Gaitskill has taught at UC Berkeley, the University of Houston, NYU, The New School, Brown, in the M.F.A. program at Temple University, and at Syracuse University. She was the writer-in-residence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. As of 2020, Gaitskill is a visiting professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.

Gaitskill is the author of the novels Two Girls, Fat and Thin, Veronica (nominated for a National Book Award, was a National Book Critics Circle finalist, and was worked on at MacDowell in 2004), and The Mare. She has also written three story collections; Bad Behavior, Because They Wanted To (a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998), and Don't Cry. A collection of her essays, Somebody with A Little Hammer, was published in April 2017. Bad Behavior, was the basis for the film Secretary (2002), although the two have little in common. She characterized the film as "the Pretty Woman version, heavy on the charm and a little too nice."

She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Cullman Library Fellowship, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters grant. She became an Academy member in 2019. Her most recent publication is The Devil’s Treasure: A Book of Stories and Dreams.

At MacDowell, Gaitskill has worked on novels, story collections, and in 2023, she worked on a fictional project commissioned by the Gagosian Art Gallery; it is meant to be a short book (in this case roughly 120 pages) illustrated by a Gagosian artist.

Made at MacDowell

Fellow Works Supported by MacDowell

Veronica (Novel)



Mary Gaitskill worked in the Mansfield studio.

The Helen Coolidge Mansfield Studio was donated by graduates of the Mansfield War Service Classes for Reconstruction Aides. Helen Mansfield helped found the New York MacDowell Club. The small, shingled frame structure with stone foundation was originally fronted on the west side by a neat white picket fence and gate, a garden, and a stone pathway…

Learn more