Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Theresa Schmich  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1953 in Savannah, Georgia

-- Mary Schmich on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Shmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Schmich grew up in Georgia. She went to high school in Phoenix and attended Pomona College in California, where she co-edited the college newspaper. After working in college admissions for three years and spending a year and a half in France, Mary Schmich attended journalism school at Stanford. She has worked as a reporter at the Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, California, at the Orlando Sentinel and, since 1985, at the Chicago Tribune. Briefly a features writer, she then spent five years as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. She has written a column since 1992. She writes three times a week mostly about Chicago but also about life at large. She has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a Pulitzer finalist for both features and commentary. In 2012, she received the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. From 1985 through 2010 she wrote the Brenda Starr comic strip.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Wear Sunscreen: A Primer for Real Life
ISBN: 0740777173

Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2008

The 10th anniversary edition of Mary Schmich's timeless advice in a new package designed for the next generation of graduates.

"What she wrote was funny and wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine."--Kurt Vonnegut, New York Times

Wear Sunscreen, now a hit video on, has been seen by millions of viewers.

It all began with a column titled "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young," written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. Posted on the Web, Schmich's column quickly became an international sensation. Friends e-mailed it to friends, the media picked up on it, and a star was born. There was only one problem: Everyone thought the column was an actual commencement address given by author Kurt Vonnegut.

Eventually, Mary Schmich was correctly identified as the author. AMP published her advice as a gift book in 1998. The following year, "Wear Sunscreen" became a hit song.

Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now: The Best of Mary Schmich
ISBN: 1572841451

Agate Midway. 2013

Over the last two decades, Mary Schmich’s bi-weekly column in the Chicago Tribune has offered advice, humor, and discerning commentary on a broad array of topics including family, milestones, mental illness, writing, and life in Chicago. Schmich won the 2012 Pulitzer for Commentary for “her down-to-earth columns that reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city.”

This collection brings together her ten Pulitzer-winning columns along with 154 others, creating a compelling collection that reflects Schmich’s thoughtful and insightful sensibility. The book is divided into 13 sections, with topics focused on loss and survival, relationships, Chicago, travel, holidays, reading and writing, and more. Schmich’s 1997 “Wear Sunscreen” column (which has had a life of its own as a falsely attributed Kurt Vonnegut commencement speech) is included, as well as her columns focusing on the demolition of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green housing project. One of the most moving sections is her twelve-part series with U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, as the latter reflected on rebuilding her life after the horrific murders of her mother and husband.

Schmich’s columns are both universal and deeply personal. The first section of The Best of Mary Schmich is dedicated to columns about her mother, and her stories of coping with her mother’s aging and eventual death. Throughout the book, Schmich reflects wisely and wryly on the world we live in, and her fond observances of Chicago life bring the city in all its varied character to warm, vivid life.


Body of Work

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)