Margaret McMullan, author and teacher, was born in 1960 in Newton, Mississippi, to Mississippi native James M. McMullan and Austrian-born Madeleine Engel de Janosi. The family, which also included Margaret’s older sister, Carlette, lived in Jackson until 1969, when they moved to Lake Forest, Illinois. Her native state is important in McMullan’s writing and provides the setting for three of her novels and a collection of stories about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which wrecked her family’s historic home in Pass Christian.
McMullan recalls, “When we moved to the Chicago area I was in the fourth grade. My classmates heard my accent and made fun of me. A lot. So I grew very quiet. That’s when I started making notes,” recording “the weather, my overly dramatic feelings, what people said, everything. Writing became a habit.” In high school, her story, “Bees,” won a prize from Scholastic Magazines: “I got $50 and a gold pen with my name on it and I was officially hooked.”
McMullan earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Grinnell College and then spent three years as associate entertainment editor for Glamour magazine in New York City. She went on to receive a master of fine arts degree in fiction from the University of Arkansas–Fayetteville. For twenty-five years, she held the Melvin M. Peterson Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Evansville in Indiana. McMullan is the author of six novels—When Warhol Was Still Alive (1994), In My Mother’s House (2003), How I Found the Strong (2004), When I Crossed No-Bob (2007), Cashay, (2009), and Sources of Light (2010). Her stories and essays have appeared in Glamour, the Chicago Tribune, National Geographic for Kids, Southern Accents, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly and in anthologies such as Christmas Stories from the South’s Best Writers and Tanzania on Tuesday: Writing by American Women Abroad. Her first story collection, Aftermath Lounge, and Every Father’s Daughter, an anthology she compiled and edited with an introduction by Phillip Lopate, appeared in 2015.
The recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award in 2004 and 2008, a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in literature, a 2010 Fulbright at the University of Pécs in Hungary, and the 2011 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, McMullan has also been recognized with two Pen/Faulkner nominations and awards from the Chicago Public Library, the New York Public Library, the School Library Journal, the Mississippi Library Association, and the American Library Association. She now lives in Pass Christian and writes full-time.
- Lewis La Plante, Evansville Living (September–October 2010)
- Margaret McMullan, Montréal Review (March 2011)
- Margaret McMullan, website, www.margaretmcmullan.com
- National Endowment for the Arts website, www.arts.gov