Joan Didion (born December 5, 1934) is an American author best known for her novels and personalized, journalistic essays. The disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos upon which her essays comment are explored more fully in her novels, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation. A sense of anxiety or dread permeates much of her work.
Joan Didion was born in Sacramento, California, to parents Frank Reese and Eduene (Jerrett) Didion. Didion recalls writing things down as early as age five, though she claims that she never saw herself as a writer until after being published. She read everything she could get her hands on after learning how to read and even needed written permission from her mother to borrow adult books, biographies especially, from the library at a young age. With this, she identified herself as being a "shy, bookish child", who pushed herself to overcome these personal obstacles through acting and public speaking.
As a child, Didion went to kindergarten and first grade; however, as a direct result of her father's involvement in World War II in the Army Air Corps, she did not attend school on a regular basis because of her family's constant relocation. It was not until the age of nine or ten that her family stopped moving around, settling back in Sacramento in 1943 or early 1944. During this time, her father went to Detroit to settle defense contracts for World War I and II. Didion states that moving as often as her family did had a profound influence on her, claiming that she often felt like a perpetual outsider. Didion later used these experiences when writing her 2003 memoir Where I Was From.