Reynolds Price

1933 -

Reynolds Price was born in 1933 and grew up in North Carolina. In junior high school a teacher recognized his gift for writing and encouraged him to pursue his craft. “From the age of six I wanted to be an artist,” says Price, “At that point I meant a painter, but it turned out what I really meant was I was someone who was very interested in watching the world and making copies of it.” He continued writing as an undergraduate at Duke University and during his senior year he had the great fortune to meet visiting writer Eudora Welty, who read one of his short stories. She was so impressed that she sent the story to her agent, who several years later would publish Price’s first novel, A Long and Happy Life (1961). In 1955, he traveled to Merton College in Oxford, England, where he studied for three years as a Rhodes Scholar. He then returned to North Carolina where he has lived ever since, teaching English at Duke University and writing.

In 1984, Price learned that he had a form of spinal cancer that ultimately left him confined to a wheelchair. The story of his agonizing illness and extraordinary cure is told in his memoir A Whole New Life (1994). The New York Times Book Review remarked, “what is strongest in this book is the delineation of one human’s endurance of disease, the fierce treatments aimed at it and the crippling consequences of both. Writing was his weapon of recovery . . . and as writing came back, his creativity was astonishingly increased.” Since being diagnosed with cancer, Price has remained, against all odds, a remarkably prolific and accomplished writer.

Over his long and distinguished career, Price has written successfully in several genres, with over 30 critically acclaimed books of fiction, poetry, plays, and essays. Price has been a Professor at Duke University since 1958. He teaches one semester a year—a course in writing and a course in literature, usually on Milton. He enjoys receiving “a new bunch of students” every year. “Anne Tyler was in my first writing class,” he recalls. “She was 16 and I was 25. I thought I was going to be that lucky every time!”

Price has received numerous literary honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Faulkner Foundation Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his memoir Clear Pictures (1989). He is also a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Price’s book, Feasting the Heart (2000), is a collection of controversial and personal essays, originally broadcast to great acclaim on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Selected Works
A Long and Happy Life (1962)
Kate Vaiden (1986)
Clear Pictures (1989)
The Tongues of Angels (1990)
New Music, plays (1990)
Blue Calhoun (1992)
The Collected Stories (1993)
A Whole New Life (1994)
Three Gospels (1996)
The Collected Poems (1997)
Roxanna Slade (1998)