Anne Lamott was born on April 10, 1954 in San Francisco, California. She began writing when she returned to California after spending two years at Goucher College, but her early efforts, mostly short stories, met with little success. The turning point in her writing came with a family crisis, when her father was diagnosed with brain cancer. She wrote a series of short pieces about the traumatic effect that serious illness has on a family. These pieces were published, and they eventually became the basis of her first novel, Hard Laughter, published in 1980.
During the 1980s, she wrote three additional novels, Rosie, Joe Jones and All New People. In 1989, her life took another turn when her son was born. Her next book, published in 1993, was a non-fiction effort called Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. She wrote ironically, but candidly, about her struggles to adjust to her new role as a mother and a single parent, and her experiences with everything from sleep deprivation to financial and emotional uncertainty to concerns about what she would tell her son when he was old enough to ask about his absent father.
Operating Instructions proved to be even more successful than her novels, and led to interviews on network news programs and a regular spot on National Public Radio. Her other works include Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life; Crooked Little Heart; Blue Shoe, Imperfect Birds, and Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. Her title Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. Her title Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair and Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace also made The New York Times Best Seller List.