Dorothy Allison

Understand me.

What I am here for is to tell you stories that you may not want to hear.

What I am here for is to rescue my dead.

And to scare hell out of you now and then.

I was raised Baptist, I know how to do that.

Best Selling Author, Including the Award-Winning Book

Bastard Out of Carolina



bastard out of carolina.jpg

Bastard Out of Carolina


Two or Three Things I Know for Sure








the women who hate me



"A hell of a writer - tough and loose, clear and compassionate."


As close to flawless as any reader could ask for and any writes could hope for and aspire to...

The living language Allison has created is as exact and innovative as the language of To Kill a Mockingbird and the Catcher in the Rye...Simply stunning.

“Tough, plainspoken, and thoroughly unsentimental.”




dorothy allison

Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. 


The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian college on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research.

Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian.

An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison's chapbook of poetry,The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983.

Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing.

Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change." However, she admits, she would never have begun to publish her stories if she hadn't gotten over her prejudices, and started talking to her mother and sisters again. 


Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner.

Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Stephen Trask. 

In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Krya Sedwick. 


The expanded edition of Trash (2002) included the prize winning short story,  "Compassion" selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South 2003.

Fall 2009, Allison was The McGee Professor and writer in residence at Davidson College, in North Carolina.

Spring, 2007, Allison was Emory University Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Distinguished Visiting Professor. 

Summer, 2007, she was Famosa in residence at Macondo in San Antonio, Texas.

2006, she was writer in residence at Columbia College in Chicago.

Awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Allison is a member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. 


Upcoming Events

  • Writing the novel
    Sonoma County
    May 01, 2021, 12:00 PM
    Sonoma County, Sonoma County, CA, USA
    Dorothy Allison will not be available this summer (2021) while completing a new novel...
  • Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC)
    Lesbian Writers Continuing on from the 70s
    Apr 26, 2021, 1:00 PM PDT
    Lesbian Writers Continuing on from the 70s
    Monday April 26th: 1pm
  • Glitterary - Dorothy Allison at University of Mississppi
    univ of Mississippi
    Apr 17, 2021, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    univ of Mississippi
    Ms Allison was interviewed online by Sarah Heying, followed by a reading from her work.
  • Glitterary at University of Mississippi
    Location is TBD
    Sep 23, 2020, 3:00 PM – 5:05 PM CDT
    Location is TBD
    3pm /5pm: Interview with Sarah Heying (her thesis is on Ms. Allison). Followed by Ms. Allison's reading from her work.
  • Glitterary Festival, Oxford Mississippi
    Apr 03, 2020, 1:15 PM
    University, Butler Auditorium, University, Oxford, MS, USA
    April 3rd: 1:15pm, conversation with Sarah Heying followed that evening by a reading (6:30pm) at Violet Valley Bookstore with Nick White.
  • 2020 Susan D. Gubar Lecture
    Neal-Marshall Grand Hall, IU Bloomington
    Mar 25, 2020, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT
    Neal-Marshall Grand Hall, IU Bloomington, 1020 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
    Named for pioneering feminist literary critic, Susan D. Gubar, this event is an annual opportunity to bring an esteemed American creative writer to Indiana to give a public lecture . Past Gubar Lecturers include Claudia Rankine, George Saunders, and Patricia Lockwood.
  • Emory Honors Jim Grimsley
    Emory University
    Mar 19, 2020, 7:00 PM
    Emory University, 201 Dowman Dr, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
    Jim Grimsley is retiring from the teaching life to concentrate on writing. His friends, including Dorothy Allison, will join the faculty to honor this legendary writer.
  • Boulder Generative Workshop November 11-13, 2020
    Boulder WritingXWriters - Generative work
    Mar 16, 2020, 10:20 AM MDT – Mar 18, 2020, 6:20 PM MDT
    Boulder WritingXWriters - Generative work
    Featuring Dorothy Allison, Jericho Brown & Pam Houston, this is to be a short intensive full immersion in the creative process. information is at
  • Eckerd College honors Dorothy Allison
    Eckerd College
    Mar 05, 2020, 5:00 PM
    Eckerd College, 4200 54th Avenue South St. Petersburg, Florida 33711
    "Our Lives in Story - the Real in Fiction" How we make over the stories we are told and the lives we lead.
  • West Chester University
    West Chester University of Pennsylvania
    Feb 25, 2020, 7:00 PM
    West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19383, USA
    Dorothy Allison will be on campus February the 24th and 25th with a public reading/lecture Tuesday evening the 25th. Contact Luanne Smith at Main Hall 548, or at
  • National Books Awards 2019
    70th National Book Awards Ceremony
    Nov 20, 2019, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    70th National Book Awards Ceremony, Lower Manhattan, New York, NY, USA
    Dorothy is a judge this year!
  • Thomas Wolfe Prize
    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
    Sep 30, 2019, 6:00 PM – Oct 01, 2019, 9:00 PM
    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Genome Sciences Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA
    2019 Thomas Wolfe Prize awarded to Dorothy Allison
  • Festivaletteratura, Italy
    Sep 06, 2019, 6:15 PM GMT+3
    Mantua, 46100 Mantua, Province of Mantua, Italy
    Festivaletteratura, Italy will take place from the 4th to the 8th of September.


For publishing inquiries, please contact Dorothy's literary agent, 

Ellen Geiger / Francis Goldin Literary Agency

For inquiries about engagements, please contact David Marsh

Dorothy is published by Penguin Random House

Dorothy has somehow never gotten much into social media, but does occasionally enjoy sharing pictures of her dog on Instagram.

You can see those here:

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