Oates discovered her love of writing at fourteen when she received a typewriter from her grandmother. She wrote novel after novel throughout high school and college. At the age of nineteen, Oates won the “college short story” contest sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in English literature.
As a professor at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, Oates published around two or three books per year over the course of ten years. She and her husband Raymond Smith also started their own small press and began to publish a literary magazine called The Ontario Review.
In 1978, Oates moved to Princeton to join the creative writing faculty at the university, a department that she still heads to this day. Oates has received numerous awards for her achievements and contributions to America’s literary history, including the 1996 PEN/Malamud Award for a “lifetime of literary achievement.” She has written 56 novels, over 30 collections of short stories, 8 volumes of poetry, plays, innumerable essays, and book reviews as well as longer nonfiction works on a wide variety of literary subjects.