Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff

Born June 19, 1945 in Birmingham, Alabama.


Tobias Wolff is an author of both fiction and non-fiction. To date he has published two memoirs, two novels, a novella, and three collections of short stories, in addition to editing several short story anthologies and having stories appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, and other magazines, collections, and literary reviews.

Wolff's formal schooling began when he fabricated his application to The Hill School, forging recommendation letters and grade reports in order to gain admission to the school and escape from his abusive stepfather. While at The Hill School, Wolff was the recipient of several awards for his writing.

Wolff received his B.A. at Oxford University and his M.A. at Stanford University, where he later claimed a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and taught from 1975 to 1978. From 1980 to 1997 Wolff was writer-in-residence at Syracuse University in New York, and then returned to Stanford, where he has taught theory and practice of prose fiction since 1997. He was the director of the Stanford Creative Writing Program from 2000-2002.

Wolff's first published work, Ugly Rumours, was given a limited release by Allen & Unwin in Britain in 1975. Out of print since that year, the book is now considered a collector's item.

Wolff's first memoir, This Boy's Life, focuses on his adolescent life of wandering with his mother and the hardships of his life with his stepfather. It was adapted into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Barkin, and Robert De Niro. His second, In Pharaoh's Army, collects his reminiscences about the Vietnam War, including Wolff's experiences of the Tet Offensive. In Pharaoh's Army picks up Wolff's story near where This Boy's Life leaves off.

Tobias Wolff has been the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Ambassador Book Award of the English-speaking Union (both for This Boy's Life), the O. Henry Award (three times), the Rea Award for excellence in the short story, and the PEN/Faulkner Award (for The Barracks Thief).

His brother, Geoffrey Wolff, is himself an author and a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Wolff's Works

Ugly Rumours, 1975, novel

In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, 1981, short story collection

The Barracks Thief, 1984, novella

Back in the World, 1985, short story collection

This Boy's Life, 1989, memoir

Best American Short Stories, 1994, editor

The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, 1994, editor

In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War, 1994, memoir

The Night in Question, 1997, short story collection

Old School, 2003, novel


Some information extracted from a recent interview in The Paris Review, various dust jackets, the Stanford Faculty page for Tobias Wolff (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/english/cw/facultybios/wolff.html), the New York State Writers Institute page for Tobias Wolff (http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/wolff.html), and the Amazon.com bookstore.

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