Diana Gabaldon: Biography & Books

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and extensive experience working in the business world as Director of Marketing and Business Development at a financial advice firm.

This lesson provides some insight into the life of the author Diana Gabaldon, and her most popular series ''Outlander'' will be discussed. Read the lesson, then test yourself with a quiz!

In the past few years, supernatural events have become a common hallmark of literature, television, and movies. Everything from vampires and zombies to fairies and wizards have become fair game in storytelling. Time travel is another aspect of this genre, and like vampires, zombies, fairies, and wizards, this concept is anything but new. Diana Gabaldon was making it popular over twenty years ago! As a result of her Outlander series, what started as a hobby unexpectedly turned into a career, and Gabaldon became a writing success.


Diana Gabaldon was born in Arizona in 1952 to Tony and Jacqueline Gabaldon. Earning her bachelor's, master's, and PhD in zoology related fields, Gabaldon was a college professor prior to becoming a writer. In addition to teaching, she also wrote articles for corporations like the Walt Disney Company. Parents of three adult children, Gabaldon and her husband, Doug, both currently live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Becoming an author completely changed Gabaldon's way of life. After completing her second novel, Gabaldon transitioned to writing full-time, giving up her professorship at Arizona State University in Environmental Science. Up until this point, she had written science articles and technical pieces at length, but was in no way a novelist.

The Outlander Series

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the popular Outlander series that details the life of a 20th century nurse who accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and falls in love with a Scottish laird. Gabaldon originally never intended to share her writing with anyone, much less the world. She wanted to write a novel to learn the process, but not to publish! She approached writing more as an academic exercise than a career opportunity.

Gabaldon began the research phase in early 1988. Interestingly, it was a rerun episode of Doctor Who that inspired the setting and time period of her novels, 18th century Scotland. Gabaldon wanted an Englishwoman to offset the Scottish laird she was writing about, but found that she kept using modern language when writing this character's dialogue; time travel was introduced as a way around this lapse in continuity, and so the premise of the Outlander series was born. The first novel was published in 1991.

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