Lee Smith (born on November 1, 1944) is an American fiction author who typically incorporates much of her home roots in the Southeastern United States in her works of literature. She has received many writing awards, such as the O. Henry Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. Her novel The Last Girls was listed on the New York Times bestseller's list and won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. Mrs Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger, a collection of new and selected stories was published in 2010.
Lee Smith was born in 1944 in Grundy, Virginia, a small coal-mining town in the Appalachian Mountains, less than 10 miles from the Kentucky border. The Smith home sat on Main Street, and the Levisa Fork River ran just behind it. Her mother, Gig, was a college graduate who had come to Grundy to teach school. Her father, Ernest, was the long time owner/operator of a Ben Franklin store in Grundy.
Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, nine-year-old Lee Smith was already writing—and selling, for a nickel apiece—stories about her neighbors in the coal boomtown of Grundy and the nearby isolated "hollers." After spending her last two years of high school at St. Catherine's School in Richmond, Virginia, Smith enrolled at Hollins College in Roanoke. She and fellow student Annie Dillard (the well-known essayist and novelist) became go-go dancers for an all-girl rock band, the Virginia Woolfs. In 1966, her senior year at Hollins, Smith submitted an early draft of a coming-of-age novel to a Book-of-the-Month Club contest and was awarded one of twelve fellowships. Two years later, that novel, The Last Day the Dog Bushes Bloomed (Harper & Row, 1968), became Smith's first published work of fiction.