I think writers are writers from the beginning,” says Roxana Barry Robinson ’64, who has enjoyed a decades-long career as a critically acclaimed journalist and author of fiction and biography.
Shipley, though, gave Robinson her first break.
“The Compass was my first professional outlet,” says Robinson, who went on from the school literary magazine to publish nine books, work with outlets such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and amass awards and accolades, including comparisons to John Cheever and Edith Wharton.
Looking back on her time at Shipley, Robinson says, “I had certainly been a reader before I got to Shipley, but this was a new way of looking at literature. It was one that involved serious attention and respect.”
With a solid Shipley-made foundation, Robinson went on to study literature and art throughout her young adult life at Bennington College, the University of Michigan, The New School and working in the American painting department at Sotheby’s.
Ultimately, Robinson’s innate call to write led her to devote herself to being a creator and, later, defender of the written word. “It’s not something you choose,” says Robinson of the writer’s life. “I didn’t think about if I wanted to do it or not, it was just my response to the world.”
Instinct surely plays a part, too, in Robinson’s role as president at the Authors Guild, the largest and oldest writers membership organization in the country.
Perhaps more than ever, Robinson explains, the work of the Guild is crucial to the future of the writing profession. “The whole landscape of publishing fiction has changed,” she says.
Another challenge for Robinson, surely, but with her inherent passion for the written word, no one seems better suited to the task.