Novelist Kaye Gibbons grew up in Nash County, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gibbons' first novel was "Ellen Foster" (1987) and was a semi-autobiographical account of an eleven-year-old girl whose mother committed suicide and was then raised by relatives. "Ellen Foster" won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and also received a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Her next novel, "A Virtuous Woman" (1989), earned her an NEA fellowship. Her third novel, "A Cure for Dreams" (1991) received the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Heartland award for fiction and the PEN Revson Award for the best work of fiction published by a writer under 35. After that, she wrote "Charms for the Easy Life" (1993) and "Sights Unseen" (1995), which were both bestsellers. In 1996, she became the youngest writer to receive the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, which recognized her contribution to French Literature.