About the Author
Hilary Thayer Hamann was born and raised in New York. Her parents divorced when she was three and she was shuttled between their respective homes in the Hamptons and the Bronx. She attended Sag Harbor Elementary School, East Hampton High School, and New York University, where she received a B.F.A. in Film & Television Production and Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts, an M.A. in Cinema Studies from the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and a Certificate in Anthropological Filmmaking from NYU’s Center for Media, Culture, and History. Ms. Hamann is a founding member of NYU's Tisch East Alumni Council. She was actively involved in the community theater of the East End from age 9 until age 19, participating in the productions of at least 30 plays, including several at Guild Hall, in jobs ranging from property mistress to lead actress.
She is the author of a work of literary fiction, Anthropology of an American Girl, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a young woman growing up in Reagan era America. The novel was first published by Vernacular Press, an independent publishing company of which Ms. Hamann was founder and co-owner. Anthropology was purchased for publication by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, and was released in May 2010. It has been newly edited by Cindy Spiegel, editor and publisher of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. The novel received many strong reviews upon initial publication. It won a “Notable Fiction Award” from Writers Notes (2004); Foreword Magazine named it a Book of the Year “Fiction Finalist” (2003), and it was given “Honorable Mention” for General Fiction by the Eric Hoffer Award (2004). Anthropology was cited for its “gorgeous language and brilliant observation” by Ms. Magazine, and it was called a “magnificently intense love story” by Romantic Times Book Club, which awarded the book “Top Pick” status, plus four-and-a-half stars, the magazine’s highest rating.
It recently received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus. O Magazine called the novel "A realistic, resonant, and universal story,” and The Washington Post praised it as "A very respectable and serious descendant of the work of D.H. Lawrence," adding that Hamann had created "a carefully devised, coherent world, filled with opinions that need to be spoken—and heard.” According to The Chicago Tribune "Hamann has a hugely engaging voice and one that is rich with social and psychological insights." The Dallas Morning News said of AAG, "This impressive debut is epic but not overwrought, and brilliant without the slightest hint of smugness. A rare kind of novel—at once sprawling and intimate—whose excellence matches its grand ambition." And the Chicago Sun-Times said that Anthropology "Showcases all the nuance and character insight of the masters. But it also has a thrilling contemporary edge that seems to just about perfectly capture the ethos, angst, and danger of a time close to our own," calling Hamann "one of the most engaging, evolving voices in contemporary fiction."
Ms. Hamann has spoken about writing and the importance of originality in creative expression at colleges in the United States including Boston University, George Mason University, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of California-Berkeley, and Barnard College's Books Etc. reading series. Books Etc. has featured some of today's most celebrated writers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Jhumpa Lahiri, Anna Quindlen, and Alice Walker. She has also spoken about the relationship between creative writing and journal keeping, with readings from the journals of writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Edmund Wilson, Anne Frank, Marguerite Duras, Mary Chestnut, and more.
Ms. Hamann is a contributor to and the creative and editorial director of Categories—On the Beauty of Physics (2006), a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary educational book that uses imagery to facilitate the reader's encounter with challenging material. Categories is a book about physics that uses literature and art to stimulate the wonder and interest of the reader. It is intended to promote scientific literacy, foster an appreciation of the humanities, and encourage readers to make informed and imaginative connections between the sciences and the arts. Categories received a “Regional Design” award from PRINT Magazine (2006), and Foreword Magazine’s “Education Book of the Year” (2005). The book earned dozens of excellent reviews and endorsements from experts such as Helen Caldicott, Steven Pinker, Alan Lightman, and John Gribbin. Categories, which sold out of it’s initial print run of 5,000 copies, has been used as a teaching tool in many colleges and is available in hundreds of libraries. In September 2009, Louisiana State University included it on the list of top 25 non-fiction books written since 1950. Also on the list are Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Edward W. Said’s Orientalism, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Maya angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Ms. Hamann was the assistant to Jacques d’Amboise, founder and artistic director of National Dance Institute, the renowned non-profit organization founded on the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them toward excellence. At NDI, Ms. Hamann was responsible for script and project development, and she produced We Real Cool, a short film based on the Gwendolyn Brooks poem, that was directed by Academy Award-winning director Emile Ardolino. Ms. Hamann also coordinated an international exchange with students from America and the then Soviet Union based on literature, music, and art. She worked in New York’s film, publishing, and entertainment industries. She has been a feature and documentary judge for several film festivals, including Telluride IndieFest, Brooklyn International Film Festival, and Brooklyn Arts Council.
She is co-director of Films on the Haywall, a classic film series held outdoors at The Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY (2008-2011). She is working on Think Cinema a book/website project that uses classic cinema as a means by which to investigate cultural history, visual aesthetics, and issues surrounding media and the public interest. She is developing two new fiction projects, one based on her family life in the Bronx in the 1960s, and the other is the story of a woman’s economic and social reversal set in the time of the 2009 economic crisis.
Ms Hamann currently lives in Sag Harbor, NY. She has three children, one of whom attends Vassar College. All three children were homeschooled for several years.