Jan Karon: 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 article discusses the author Jan Karon, and her written work, particularly her Mitford series of novels and their companion books. Read the article and test yourself with the quiz!

Meet Jan Karon

In today's fiction market, it is very difficult to find an author that does not rely on sex, drugs, or other attention-getting plot points to grab a reader's attention. One could assume that without these literary devices, a book would be boring, and no one would want to read it; however, Jan Karon has proven that to be false. Her best selling Mitford Years series, focusing on the inhabitants of a small town in North Carolina and especially the local Episcopal priest Father Tim, has consistently been found at the top of the best sellers list. The adventures of Father Tim, his wife, adopted son, dog, and various other characters have delighted readers since the publication of the first novel of the series in 1996.


Jan Karon was born in North Carolina in 1937. She was named after the title of a novel, and grew up in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her father left their family when Karon was three years old, and she was raised on her grandparents' farm. She left school after the eighth grade so that she could begin working. She married and had a child by age 17. Her husband divorced her, and she became a receptionist for an advertising agency by age 18 to provide for herself and her daughter. She worked her way up through the ranks in the field, and retired as a company vice president.

She retired to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, close to where she was born. She wanted to write, and thought this idyllic setting would aid her in her writing. The town did inspire Karon, and she based her fictional town, Mitford, North Carolina, on Blowing Rock.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Blowing Rock

The Mitford Years

Karon published the first book in the Mitford series, At Home In Mitford, in 1996. Since then, she has written nine more books about the Mitford universe, continuing the series in 2015 with Come Rain or Come Shine. Karon's books include not only the novels about Father Tim Kavanagh, but also include children's books, cookbooks, and series companions that delve deeper into characters found within the Mitford Years book series.

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