Born in Sacramento, California, on December 5, 1934, Joan Didion received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1956. She wrote for Vogue from 1956 to 1963, and was visiting regent's lecturer in English at the University of California, Berkeley in 1976. Didion also published novels, short stories, social commentary, and essays. Her work often comments on social disorder. Didion wrote for years on her native California; from there her perspective broadened and turned to the countries of Central America and Southeast Asia. Her novels include Democracy (1984) and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996). Well known nonfiction titles include Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), The White Album (1979), The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) and Blue Nights (2011). In 1971 Joan Didion was nominated for the National Book Award in fiction for Play It As It Lays. In 1981 she received the American Book Award in nonfiction, and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Prize in nonfiction for The White Album. Didion has received a great deal of recognition for The Year of Magical Thinking, which was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005. In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation's annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2009, Didion was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Harvard University. On July 3, 2013 the White House announced Didion was one of the recipients of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities presented by President Barack Obama.