Marjorie Agosín is a poet, fiction writer, memoirist, anthologist, professor and human rights activist. A descendant of European Jews who escaped the Holocaust and settled in Chile in 1939, she was born in Bethesda, Maryland, and raised in Santiago, Chile. The family settled in Athens, Georgia, after fleeing the madness which pervaded Chile under Pinochet's violent rise to power. Agosín earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University.
A dedicated human rights activist, Agosín is a recipient of the Jeanetta Rankin Award in Human Rights, the Good Neighbor Award from the Conference of Christians and Jews, the Girl Scouts Leading Women of 2000 Award, and the United Nations Leadership Award on Human Rights. Almost all of her works reflect her concern for the abuse of human rights.
Agosín's numerous literary awards include the Letras de Oro Prize, the Latina Literature Prize, and the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement.
Agosín's poetry includes Conchalí (1981), Brujas y algo más/Witches and Other Things (1984), Women of Smoke (1988), Zones of Pain (1988), Hogueras/Bonfires (1990), Sargasso (1993), Toward the Splendid City (1994), and Lluvia en el desierto/Rain in the Desert (1999). Agosín's collection of prose poems, Circles of Madness: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992), was illustrated with photographs of the mothers of the disappeared and other grim scenes from Argentina. For the past decade, Agosín has concentrated on a series of critically acclaimed memoirs of her family. La Felicidad, first published in Santiago, was her first prose collection to be published in English. Translated as Happiness (1994), it could easily qualify as "magical realism," but Agosín's work goes beyond that shop-worn term. As Elena Poniatowska wrote, "Marjorie Agosín could well be the creator of a new fantastic literature in Latin America." A Cross and a Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile (1995) focused on the life of Agosín's mother in the small town of Osorno, Chile, under a generally unknown Nazi regime. This was followed by Always from Somewhere Else: A Memoir of My Chilean Jewish Father (1998). She has also written an autobiography, The Alphabet in My Hands: A Writing Life (2000). Agosín is also the editor of A Dream of Light & Shadow: Portraits of Latin American Women Writers (1995), Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love: The Arpillera Movement in Chile, 1974-1994 (1996), The House of Memory: Jewish Stories for Jewish Women of Latin America (1999), and A Map of Hope: Women Writers and Human Rights (1999).
Agosín is the Luella Lamer Slain Professor of Latin American Studies at Wellesley College, where she is adored by her students .
Marjorie Agosín was one of six women featured on Marsha Moyo's CD "Women Celebrated." Besides Agosín, these women were Jane Goodall PhD, Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, South African freedom fighters Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and sportswoman extraordinaire, Australian Kay Cottee.