Ursula Hegi: Biography

Ursula Hegi

23 maj 1946

Ursula Hegi (née Koch) is an American writer who was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1946. She was raised in the city of Dusseldorf, a place which had been largely devastated by bombings during the Second World War. She has spoken openly about how the war and the Holocaust were treated as taboo subjects despite the fact that everyone was living in their wake. This has greatly affected and influenced her writing.

Hegi was just 18 when she first left West Germany for the United States. She married her husband in 1967 and immediately became a naturalised American citizen. She has lived in the US ever since, despite divorcing her husband in 1984.

Hegi’s first two published works are both set in the United States. It was not until her third novel that she began to draw on her own experiences and her German heritage as inspiration for her books. Her fourth novel, Stones from the River, became a bestselling title when it was selected as part of Oprah’s Book Club in 1997. She was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show to publicise her book, and as a result over 2 million copies of the novel were printed and sold.

Hegi has been awarded many different prizes during her writing career, included five PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards, a Fellowship from the NEA and two Notable Book mentions in The New York Times.

Ursula Hegi lives in New York and has now had 7 novels for adults and 1 for children published. She currently teaches on the MFA course at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.