All along, writing has been an important outlet for me. The Invisible Kingdom and The Long Goodbye are about my experiences with chronic illness and grief (respectively), and they are written in hopes of illuminating the lived experiences of loss and sickness so that others will feel less alone, and someday change may come.
I currently live in New Haven, Connecticut, with my partner Jim and my two young sons. I am also the editor of The Yale Review, a literary and cultural quarterly and website. I’m incredibly grateful to be the recipient of numerous literary awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation.
I hope that sharing my story with you will help in some way, shape, or form–or at least offer an engrossing reading experience.
I was fortunate enough to be able to keep working during this time. One of my first jobs was as an editor at The New Yorker, where I was lucky to learn the ropes from other talented writers and editors. Following this position, I joined Slate in 2001 as their culture editor and literary critic, launching the Slate Audio Book Club. From there, I joined The Paris Review in 2005 as the magazine's poetry editor.
When my mother died in 2008, I was struck by how taboo grieving still seemed to be. And at this time, my health also worsened. I launched into a years-long quest to understand what was wrong with me, talking to expert researchers and doctors and, most of all, to fellow patients. I learned I was hardly alone. There was a whole realm of sick people whose lives were being turned upside down by “vague” and “subjective” symptoms—and most were being dismissed or told their illnesses were due to anxiety, or were psychosomatic. This didn’t make sense to the reporter in me. And so I began digging in to learning more, and what I learned changed the way I thought about my body, health, and how our health care system might better serve patients and health care workers alike.
Today, I live with the ongoing effects of long-untreated tick-borne illness, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and autoimmune thyroiditis. I am incredibly lucky to be able to function, but every day is an exercise in balancing my needs, life’s demands, and limited energy. In the meantime, the illness remains mostly invisible to everyone around me.
My name is Meghan O’Rourke, and I’m a New York Times bestselling author, poet, editor, and podcaster. My work often tackles challenging subjects such as chronic illness and grief, which can be difficult to write and speak about, of course, but also to experience firsthand. Here’s more of my story…
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with my two brothers and our large, rambunctious dogs. My mother and father were teachers. When I was five, my mother gave me a notebook and told me to write down interesting, strange, or troubling things I saw. And so I knew from a young age I wanted to be a writer.
Soon after I graduated from Yale in 1997—and as I was first embarking upon my career as a journalist and teacher—I began experiencing strange physical symptoms, like electric shocks, fatigue, and tremors, which at first came and went…. As I write in my book The Invisible Kingdom, I got sick the way Hemingway says you go broke: “gradually then suddenly.”
Meghan O'Rourke is a writer, poet, and editor. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (2022); the bestselling memoir The Long Goodbye (2011); and the poetry collections Sun In Days (2017), which was named a New York Times Best Poetry Book of the Year; Once (2011); and Halflife (2007), which was a finalist for the Patterson Poetry Prize and Britain’s Forward First Book Prize.
O’Rourke is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Whiting Nonfiction Award, the May Sarton Poetry Prize, the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes.
Currently the editor of The Yale Review, she began her career as a fiction and nonfiction editor at The New Yorker. Since then, she has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor and advisory editor for The Paris Review. Her essays, criticism, and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and Best American Poetry, among others. She is a graduate of Yale University, where she also teaches.
Use this very short bio and the downloadable author photo below:
Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness and The Long Goodbye, as well as the poetry collections Sun In Days, Once, and Halflife. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, and more. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and a Whiting Nonfiction Award, she resides in New Haven, where she teaches at Yale University and is the editor of The Yale Review.
Here is a bio that you can use to introduce Meghan.