Robin McKinley's full name is Jennifer Robin Carolyn McKinley, and she was born November 16, 1952 in Warren, Ohio. Her father's career in the Navy sent her traveling throughout the world as a child. Growing up she had a passion for reading.
She attended Gould Academy, a preparatory school in Bethel, Maine, and Dickinson College in 1970-1972. In 1975, she was graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College. In 1978, her first novel, Beauty, was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to, and at age 26, she began her writing career.
The heroines in McKinley's books reflect certain qualities that she saw in herself as a young woman: clumsiness, plainness, bookishness, and disinterest in the usual social games. She writes about strong heroines because she feels very strongly about the potential for girls to be "doing things" and she feels that the selection of fantasy literature featuring girls is scarce and unsatisfactory. According to biographer Marilyn H. Karrenbrock, "McKinley's females do not . . . betray their own nature to win a man's approval. But neither do they take love lightly or put their own desires before anything else. In McKinley's books, the romance, like the adventure, is based upon ideals of faithfulness, duty, and honor."
Robin married English author Peter Dickinson in 1992 and currently lives in "a small village in a very large house" in Hampshire, England with her husband, three whippets, and a horse.
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