Close up of Nevada Writers Hall of Fame medal

Joanne Meschery

1999 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Inductee


Joanne Meschery was born in Gorman, Texas, the daughter of a Methodist preacher, and spent her early childhood years in Boston. She knew she wanted to be a writer by the time she was six years old. Later she moved with her family to Modesto, California, and went to high school in Fallon, Nevada.  In 1963, she earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. After meeting basketball player Tom Meschery in Squaw Valley in 1964, they married in 1965 and eventually had three children. They both attended the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, and she obtained her master's degree in fiction-writing at the University of Iowa. She was also a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Stanford University's Creative Writing Program. Her first novel, In A High Place, received a Commonwealth Club of California Award for Fiction. Her second novel, A Gentleman's Guide to the Frontier, was nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award and was named a Notable Book of the year by The Nation magazine. Her third novel, Home and Away, was recognized as a Notable Book by the Book Critics Circle and the San Francisco Chronicle. It was reprinted by the University of California Press as part of its California Writers Series. Her work has been awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and several grants from the California Arts Council. She taught in the MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Arkansas for eight years and then held a similar position at San Diego State University. She has directed the International Summer Writing Program at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She has participated in the Literary Women Festival and the Sierra Nevada College Lake Tahoe Reader Series. She is a member of the PEN American Center and served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1996. She has also served as a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers' board and has been a Visiting Distinguished Writer at several colleges and universities. Admitting that she is hooked on writing, she also enjoys the process of research for her writing projects, referring to being caught up in "the research raptures."