Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Doria Russell  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1950 in Elmhurst, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Mary Doria Russell on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Russell was born in --- and grew up in Lombard, Illinois. She attended Sacred Heart Catholic elementary school and Glenbard East High School. She worked at the Helen M. Plum Memorial Library as a teenager.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in contemporary American literature. Her acclaimed novels are studied in literature, theology, and history courses in colleges and universities across the United States. Her novels have won nine national and international literary awards, including the ''Arthur C. Clarke Award'', the ''James Tiptree Award'', and the ''American Library Association Readers' Choice Award''. ''The Sparrow'' was selected as one of ''Entertainment Weekly’s'' ten best books of the year and ''A Thread of Grace'' was nominated for a ''Pulitzer Prize''. ''The Sparrow'' and ''Children of God'' have been optioned for Hollywood movies starring Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt.Russell studied anthropology and paleoanthropology before teaching gross anatomy at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. She began writing fiction after leaving academia.

Published Works

  • The Sparrow, Fawcett/Ballentine, 1997
  • Children of God, Fawcett/ Ballentine, 1999
  • A Thread of Grace, Random House, 2004
  • ''Dreamers of the Day, Random House, 2008

Selected Titles At Your Library

The sparrow /
ISBN: 1423356276. OCLC Number:

Brilliance Audio,. Grand Haven, Mich. :. ℗1996.

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience--the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life--begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

Children of God :
ISBN: 0375751211. OCLC Number:

Villard,. New York :. ©1998.

A thread of grace /
ISBN: 0552772887. OCLC Number:

Black Swan,. London :. 2005.

Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, this new novel is the first in seven years by the bestselling author of The Sparrow and Children of God.It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war's final phase. The result of five years of meticulous research, A Thread of Grace is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters that will please Russell's many fans and earn her even more.

Dreamers of the day :
ISBN: 0385614543. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2008.

A forty-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio still reeling from the tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic comes into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel, site of the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, she meets Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence, and Lady Gertrude Bell. With her plainspoken American opinions, she becomes a sounding board for these historic luminaries who will, in the space of a few days, invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. While neither a pawn or a participant at the conference, she is drawn into the geopolitical intrigue surrounding the conference.


John W. Campbell Award

, Best New Novelist, 1998

Arthur C. Clarke Award

James Tiptree Award

American Library Association Readers' Choice Award

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)