Mary Hood

Mary Hood is a recognized master of the short story, a talented artist of character and settings that are often inspired by her Georgia surroundings. Her work has been widely anthologized in compilations of the best American short fiction since 1980.

In the words of one scholar, Mary Hood’s stories “illuminate the lives of quintessential Southerners who rarely flourish but somehow manage to survive.”[1] The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story says of Hood’s work, “Fifteen of the sixteen stories in her two short story collections are set in the past three decades in Georgia, reflecting the natural and the asphalt landscape.” In How Far She Went, “seven of the eight stories are set in rural North Georgia. The concrete details make real the landscape and frame the conflicts of characters whose lives are simple only on the exterior.” Then in Hood’s second volume of stories, And Venus Is Blue, Georgia’s countryside “gives way to trailer parks, subdivisions, new shopping centers and beltways … but her characters retain their uniqueness of place and speech.”[2]

Mary Hood’s mother, a Cherokee County native, was a teacher of Latin at Glynn Academy in Brunswick when she married Mary’s father, a serviceman from New York she’d met at the USO.  “Growing up on the coast, my first landscape was live oak and marsh, so there is always that stark light and dark and the need for shade, the evergreen shade that comes from those trees,” Hood told interviewer William Walsh in 2012. “Brunswick was a seaport, fishing fleet, navy town—very international. All the different cultures were there; I think they are part of my ecumenical taste. We had glimpses of everything in the world, good and bad and mainly human. Every word I heard was spoken in a different accent, which helped me to have a sharper ear.”[3]

Mary Hood's family had lived in Bartow, Douglas, Worth and Dougherty counties before she went to college at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where she graduated with a degree in Spanish. Hood then did graduate work at Georgia Tech in chemistry before deciding to commit herself full-time to writing. In 1976 she settled in the Victoria community outside Woodstock, in Cherokee County, the Georgia foothills setting for many of her early stories.

Hood’s first collection, How Far She Went, was published to acclaim in 1984, winning both the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and the Southern Review/Louisiana State University Short Fiction Award. Her short story “Something Good for Ginnie” The Georgia Review (Fall 1985) helped that journal win a National Magazine Award, and won Pushcart Prize and Whiting Award honors for fiction. 

And Venus Is Blue (1986), Hood’s second short-story collection, won the biennial Townsend Prize for the best fictional work by a Georgian, and the Southern Regional Council’s Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Additionally, Hood was named Georgia Author of the Year by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists.

In 1995 Hood published a novel, Familiar Heat, set in a small Southern Florida fishing village populated by a diverse cast that includes Cubans, Greeks, white and African Americans. She also wrote the descriptive essay on Northwest Georgia (“Tropic of Conscience”) in The New Georgia Guide (1996), a general guide to the state published by the Georgia Humanities Council and University of Georgia Press.

Hood has been a guest teacher of creative writing at the University of Mississippi and at Kentucky’s Centre College, and in Georgia she has been invited to teach at Berry College, Reinhardt University, Oxford College of Emory University, the University of Georgia, and Mercer University. Kennesaw State University honored her in 1999 as “Writer of the Decade” in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the Contemporary Literature and Writing Conference. The Georgia Review, which has published many of Hood's stories since 1978, honored her continuing contribution in 2013 with a special feature based on her years of correspondence with Review editor Stanley Lindberg.  

Mary Hood currently lives in Commerce, in Jackson County, Georgia, where she recently published a new collection of short stories, A Clear View of the Southern Sky (2015). Hood currently has  several new works in progress, including a novel about a fictional community ravaged by the 1994 Flint River flood.


[1] David Aiken, "Mary Hood: The Dark Side of the Moon," in Southern Writers at Century's End, ed. Jeffrey J. Folks and James A. Perkins (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1997), p. 24.

[2] Dede Yow, "Mary Hood," in The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story, ed. Blanche H. Gelfant (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), p. 297.

[3] Walsh, William, “The Woman Who Almost Bolted: An Interview with Mary Hood," Georgia Review 67:1 (Spring 2013).


Photo of Mary Hood by William Walsh.



The following titles by Mary Hood are held by the Hargrett Library:

How Far She Went. Athens : University of Georgia Press, c1984.

How Far She Went. New York, N.Y. : Avon Books, [1986], c1984.

And Venus is Blue. New York : Ticknor & Fields, 1986.

And Venus is Blue. New York : Ticknor & Fields, 1986. [Uncorrected proof.]

And Venus is Blue. New York : Washington Square Press, 1987, c1986.

Bleu comme Vénus [And Venus is Blue. French.] [Arles] : Actes Sud, c1990.

Familiar Heat. New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1995.

Familiar Heat. New York : Warner Books, [1996]

And Venus is Blue. Athens : University of Georgia Press, [2001]

A Clear View of the Southern Sky. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2015.


Manuscript Holdings

The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library of Emory University (Atlanta) holds papers of author Mary Hood, including the writer's manuscripts, photographs, and correspondence.