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Sandra Cisneros: 1954—: Writer

Became First Hispanic-american To Sign With A Major Publisher

Cisneros broke new ground by becoming the first Chicana author to receive the backing of a major publishing house when Random House published Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories in 1991. The collection of stories highlights the lives of Mexican-American women living in the San Antonio area. Again, her work drew critical and popular acclaim. Its publication also helped establish Cisneros financially. No more teaching or posting flyers, Cisneros could now make a living from writing alone.

In 1995 Cisneros achieved what many consider to be the height of artistic success when she was awarded the MacArthur Genius Fellowship. Its $225,000 purse allowed Cisneros to finally realize her childhood dream—a house of her own. She bought a large Victorian home in a historic district of San Antonio that she painted a bright neon purple. The local historic board promptly challenged her color choice saying it was not a historically accurate color. Not one to sit idly by while decisions are made for her, Cisneros clad in purple held news conferences on her lawn. She passed out petitions on purple paper. She declared the color a part of her Mexican heritage and accused the board of bias against Hispanic culture. "We are a people sin papeles [' without papers']!" she was quoted in Texas Monthly. "We don't exist. This isn't about my little purple house. It's about the entire Tejano community." In 1997 the board withdrew its objections and Cisneros's purple house stands. There she lives on her own terms, still "nobody's mother and nobody's wife," she makes her life with a small army of pets and a worldwide family of fans. In the last vignette of The House on Mango Street, Esperanza promises to go away in order "to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot [get] Editors check this source., see if word in brackets should be included. out." Cisneros continues to fulfill Esperanza's promise. "I'm looking forward to the books I'll write when I'm 60," she told Publishers Weekly. "There's a lot of good writing in the mainstream press that has nothing to say. Chicano writers have a lot to say. The influence of our two languages is profound."

Selected Works


Bad Boys, Mango Publications, 1980.

The House on Mango Street, Arte Publico, 1983.

Antojitos /appetizers, Art Publico Press, 1985.

The Rodrigo Poems, Third Woman Press, 1985.

My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Third Woman Press, 1987.

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Random House, 1991.

Hairs: Pelitos, Knopf, 1994.

Loose Woman, Knopf, 1994.


"Ghosts and Voices: Writing from Obsession," The Americas Review, Spring 1987.

"Notes to a Young(er) Writer," The Americas Review, Spring 1987.



Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 9, Detroit, Gale Research, 1992.


The Americas Review, Spring 1990, p 64-80.

Glamour, November 1990, p 256-257.

Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1991, p F1.

Publishers Weekly., March 29, 1991, pp. 74-5.

Texas Monthly, Oct 1997, p148-151.

—Candace LaBalle

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Ciara Biography - Wrote Out Goals to Elizabeth David (1913–1992) BiographySandra Cisneros: 1954—: Writer Biography - Escaped Shame Through Books, Found Her Voice In Her Past, Earned Literary Acclaim And Fame