The Death of Joan Didion: A Brief Summary of Life and Legacy


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Author Joan Didion at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2008.

Jenna Caruso, Staff Writer

Just before the start of the new year, American writer Joan Didion passed away at the age of 87. Born in Sacramento, California, in 1935, she later attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Didion then went on to become one of the most notable modern female writers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

Didion gained attention in the early 1960s when she won essay contests from Vogue and Mademoiselle. By the end of the decade, she was writing for both of those noteworthy magazines, among others as well. During this time, she also published her first novel, and took an interest in both reporting and screenplay writing, in which one of her most famous works includes A Star is Born (1976). 

As for her writing, Didion is best known for her fondness of chaos and catastrophe within her works. She is noted to have a more cynical and hard tone in many of her essays and novels. Moreover, her style heavily favored culture, and she often took inspiration from her home state and the values of 1960s and 1970s society. 

Experimenting with post-war sentiments, Didion’s contributions in reporting, film, and literature became an embodiment of social thought and political events in mid-twentieth century America. She will continue to be held in high esteem, and inspire readers and writers through her death.