A native of Georgia, Frances Mayes received a B.A. from the University of Florida and an M.A. from San Francisco State University. She is a creative writing professor at San Francisco State University. Mayes' memoir "Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy," about buying and restoring an abandoned villa in Cortona, was a national best seller in 1996. In addition her travel writing, Frances Mayes is the author of six books of poetry and is a respected essayist and gourmet cook.