Jan Karon (1937 – )

Born Janice Meredith Wilson on March 14, 1937 in Lenoir, North Carolina, Jan Karon is a New York Times best-selling author best known for her Mitford series.

Karon's mother was fifteen when she was born, and her parents slip up a few years later and left her with her maternal grandparents at their farm outside of Lenoir, NC. When she was 12 she rejoined her mother, who was living in Charlotte with her new husband and their 2 children. Karon dropped out of school in ninth grade and got married to Robert Freeland in South Carolina, where it was legal to do so at the age of 14. The next year she had her daughter, Candace Freehand. Karon and her husband divorced a few years later, and at just 18 years old she was alone with her daughter, and began work at an advertising agency. She began to submit her own work to the firm, and her career in advertising began, culminating in winning the prestigious Kelly Award in 1987. She married twice more, her last husband Arthur Karon.

In 1988 Karon quit her successful job at an advertising agency  and moved to Blowing Rock, NC to pursue of her dream of becoming a novelist. Her novels were initially rejected, but Karon began publishing The Mitford Years in installments in the local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket, from 1990-1992. She finally placed the book with a small religious publisher and At Home in Mitford was published as a paperback by Lion Publishing in Elgin, IL in 1994.With her background in advertising, Karon did a lot of the marketing herself, but even she had doubts about the popularity of a book without sex and bad language. Lion Publishing subsequently published two more Mitford novels, and through personal connections Karon's books ended up in the hands of an editor at Viking. That editor convinced Viking, who did not generally publish Christian Fiction to buy the three Mitford novels as paperbacks in 1996, and by the end of the 90s they were best-sellers.

To date, Karon has written 14 Mitford novels and other non-fiction, children’s and Christmas books.

Books by Jan Karon