Alvarez ’67 to Visit Campus

Author Julia Alvarez ’67, renowned for her nationally acclaimed works of fiction and poetry, will visit Phillips Academy this Friday to read selections from her various works, concluding Abbot Academy’s centennial celebration. Alvarez’ visit is part of Andover’s Latin Arts celebration; other events include a special dinner in Commons and a concert performed by a Latin band. Chair of the English Department Jon Stableford said of Alvarez, “I love her works. They’re very interesting and very particular as they’re almost all about Dominican women who immigrated to this country. They’re very rich stories, she writes beautifully.” Born in 1950 in New York City, Alvarez moved to the Dominican Republic with her parents when she was three months old. Ten years after their move, however, Alvarez’s father, discovered to support a movement to overthrow the Trujillo dictatorship, took his family back to the harsh world of New York. Alvarez was thrown from her beginning English classes, taught primarily in Spanish, to classes taught entirely in English. Her limited knowledge of the English language forced her to focus on vocabulary and grammar more than the typical student. This early start in the observation of different words and how they relate to one another laid the foundation for her writing career. Alvarez went on to attend Abbot Academy, graduating in 1967. Alvarez began her college career at Connecticut College, but transferred after two years to Middlebury College. She graduated summa cum laude in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After obtaining a Masters in Creative Writing from Syracuse University in 1975, Alvarez continued her education at the Bread Loaf School of English where she attended three graduate courses to obtain a Masters degree in English and American Literature during the summers of 1979 and 1980. Alvarez began her official career as a writer in 1975 as the writer in residence for the Kentucky Arts Commission. Alvarez remained a writer in residence from 1975 to 1978, taking jobs in Delaware and North Carolina. She then proceeded to teach poetry, creative writing, and literature at the University of Illinois, the University of Vermont, and Phillips Academy. In 1988, Alvarez began to teach at Middlebury College, where she now serves as a writer-in-residence. Alvarez wrote her first book in 1991 at the age of 41. Titled How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, the novel traces the lives of four Latino immigrants to the United States. The American Library Association chose the novel as a Notable Book in 1992, and New York librarians later designated it one of the 21 classics of the 21st century. Since 1991, Alvarez has written seven more novels, including the highly acclaimed work In the Time of the Butterflies. Her most recent, Before We Were Free, was published in 2002. Alvarez has also published three anthologies of poetry which have earned her a myriad of awards.