Marya Hornbacher bigraphy, stories - American journalist

Marya Hornbacher : biography

4 April 1974 -

Marya Justine Hornbacher (born 4 April 1974) is an American author and freelance journalist. Her book Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, is a Pulitzer Prize nominated autobiographical account of her struggle with eating disorders, written when she was twenty-two. It has been translated into sixteen languages and sold over a million copies in the U.S. Wasted was banned in many public school systems due to its many drug and alcohol references as well as repeated sexual encounters. Her second book is the critically praised 2005 novel, The Center of Winter, which follows a family in the aftermath of a suicide. Her third book, published in April 2008, a memoir titled Madness: A Bipolar Life, chronicles the years following Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. (ISBN 978-0618754458) Her fourth book, published in 2010, is the recovery handbook Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps written as a guide to working the Twelve Steps for people who suffer from both addiction and mental illness. Her fifth book, published in 2011, Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power, explores spirituality and what that can mean to someone recovering--from addiction, mental illness, or both--who does not believe in God.

Personal life

Hornbacher married Julian Daniel Beard in 1996, but they divorced after the success of Wasted. The marriage, and eventual divorce, is also discussed in Madness where she attributes the nuptial failure in part to problems with drugs and alcohol, and largely to her ill-managed bi-polar disorder.

Marya received a Master's Degree from the New College of California. Her second book, The Center of Winter, published in 2005, received excellent reviews, and her second memoir, Madness: A Bipolar Life, was published in 2008. It was met with immediate praise and hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Her fourth and fifth books, both published by Hazelden Publishers, are much different from Marya's past works but allowed her to use her knowledge and experiences with addiction and recovery to delve into the recovery community. Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps, was published in 2010, and Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power was published in 2011. Both were finalists for the Books for Better Life Award. Also, within the past several years she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both non-fiction and poetry.

She has now been sober for more than ten years (since the summer of 2001, according to Madness). Her last hospitalization was in 2007, the last hospitalization described in Madness. Her marriage to Jeff Miller eventually dissolved due to reasons she said were completely unrelated to her bipolar or his depression. She was honored with a major award, the ASCAP Award for music journalism, for her profile of jazz great Oscar Peterson (published January 2005). She is also a two-time Fellow at Yale. She still publishes occasional journalistic pieces, as well as short fiction and poetry.

As of right now, Marya is working on several projects. She is currently working on a nonfiction book about sex and sexuality in literature. She is also completing a manuscript of poetry and a manuscript of essays and has a novel in the works. Along with her journalism and articles, she teaches in the graduate writing program at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Also, as of February, 2011, she is considering several schools where she plans to pursue her PhD.


Marya Hornbacher was born in Walnut Creek, California and raised in Edina, Minnesota. She is the only child of Jay and Judy Hornbacher, professional theatre actors and directors; her mother worked as a school administrator before converting to theatre. Marya became bulimic at age nine and developed drug and alcohol problems by age thirteen. When Hornbacher was fifteen years old, she was accepted into the prestigious arts boarding school Interlochen where she developed anorexia.

The summer following her first year at Interlochen she was hospitalized for her eating disorder and then moved in with her father's ex-wife in Northern California. While there, she met her future husband, Julian Daniel Beard, but her eating disorder steadily worsened and she was re-hospitalized after Christmas. She was released in February but readmitted again after only two weeks. Eventually her parents sent her to Lowe House, a residential treatment hospital for adolescents with severe, long-term mental problems.

After her release that summer, she enrolled in the University of Minnesota and started writing for the university's student newspaper The Minnesota Daily. At the age of eighteen, despite her continued eating disorder, she signed out of treatment. In the fall of 1992, she entered college at American University in Washington D.C. Her eating disorder rapidly worsened and by the winter she had dropped to fifty-two pounds. On a visit home to her parents, she was admitted to the ER and given one week to live.

Though Hornbacher survived her ordeal, she has been left with many physical ailments as a result, including osteoporosis, a heart murmur, and infertility. Her second autobiography, Madness, also describes a near fatal incident of cutting but Hornbacher herself seems unclear about whether or not this was an intentional attempt at suicide.

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