Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Cornelia Nixon  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: N/A



Illinois Connection

Cornelia Nixon lived in Chicago from summer 1989 to summer 1991.

Biographical and Professional Information

Bread Loaf Writers Conference Faculty, 2003

Fiction Fellowship Panel, Ohio Arts Council, 1999

Artist Fellowship Panel, American Antiquarian Society, 1999

Fellowship Panel, National Endowment for the Humanities (year-long fellowships), 1997

Judge, Indiana Arts Fiction Contest, 1992

Fellowship Panel, National Endowment for the Humanities (summer faculty stipends), 1989 and 1990

Fellowship Panel, Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, 1988

Reader, University of Tennessee Press, Indiana University Press, University of California Press

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Lawrence's Leadership Politics and the Turn Against Women
ISBN: 0520054318

Univ of California Pr. 1986

Now You See It: A Novel
ISBN: 0060974729

Perennial. 1992

Tells the story of Edward Hooper, a philosophy professor, his wife, Ella, a German refugee with family links to Nazi Germany, and their two children

Angels Go Naked: A Novel
ISBN: 1582430624

Counterpoint. 2000

Angels Go Naked is the vexed love story of Webster, a microbiologist at Berkeley, Margy, a violinist for the Chicago Symphony, and the collision course they call their life together. Against all probability, they meet, fall in love, and marry. Margy begins to think about having a child, and it is here that Cornelia Nixon most brilliantly captures the troubled but deeply symbiotic union of a wife who says she desperately wants children and a husband who refuses to become a father. The arc of this couple's unhappiness is traced in a funny, sad, and compassionate series of beautifully imagined scenes. As in her celebrated novel Now You See It, Nixon's gifts are apparent on every page.

Jarrettsville: A Novel
ISBN: 158243512X

Counterpoint. 2009

Based on a true story from the author’s family history, Jarrettsville begins in 1869, just after Martha Jane Cairnes has shot and killed her fiancé, Nicholas McComas, in front of his Union cavalry militia as they were celebrating the anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

To find out why she murdered him, the story steps back to 1865, six days after the surrender, when President Lincoln has just been killed by John Wilkes Booth. Booth belongs to the same Rebel militia as Martha’s hot-headed brother Richard, who has gone missing along with Booth. Martha is loyal to her brother but in love with Nicholas McComas, a local hero of the Union cause, and their affair is fraught with echoes of the bloody conflict just ended.

The story is set in Northern Maryland, six miles below the Mason-Dixon line, where brothers literally fought on opposing sides, and former slave-owners live next door to abolitionists and freed men. Such tension proves key to Martha’s motives in killing the man she loves, and why — astonishingly — she is soon acquitted by a jury of her peers, despite more than fifty eyewitnesses to the crime.



Distinguished Story of 2001, Best American Short Stories 2002

W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Creative Writng, 2002-2005

Finalist, Bay Area Book Reviewer's Award, 2001

Lila Wallace Artist Fellowship for Historical Research by Creative and Performing Artists, American Antiquarian Society, 1998

First Prize O. Henry Award, 1995

Pushcart Prize, 1995

O. Henry Award, 1993

Indiana Arts Commission Master Fellowship, 1993

National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, 1992

Carl Sandburg Award for Fiction, 1991

Distinguished Story of 1989, Best American Short Stories 1990

Black Warrior Review Fiction Prize, 1988-89

Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize, 1988 (declined)

Nelson Algren Award for Fiction, 1988