Joan Didion

Joan Didion was born on December 5, 1934, in Sacramento, California, United States. She was an American writer who authored several works of fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays. She also worked as a copywriter and associate feature editor for “Vogue” magazine. Didion’s career kicked off in the late 1950s after she won an essay contest sponsored by “Vogue.” She was awarded the post of research assistant as the prize. Her 2005 non-fiction book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” made her a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The book was later adapted into a Broadway play. She married her friend and editor, John Gregory Dunne. The couple adopted a daughter and settled in Los Angeles, U.S.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Joan Didion

Birth date:

December 5, 1934



Zodiac Sign:



5' 0"

Net Worth:

$4 million


Joan Didion was an American novelist and screenwriter whose incredible writing skills earned her great recognition. She was born on December 5, 1934, in Sacramento, California, U.S., to Frank Reese Didion, a finance officer in the Army Air Corps., and his wife, Eduene. She grew up alongside her younger brother, James, and was a shy child who was always immersed in books. Given her father’s transferable job, she had an unconventional, or rather irregular education and could not attend any school regularly. In 1956, she earned a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. In her senior year of college, she participated in an essay contest organized by “Vogue” magazine and was declared the winner. As a prize, she won a job at the magazine, which she accepted.

At her job, she steadily climbed her way up from a promotional copywriter to an associate feature editor. In 1963, while still with the magazine, she wrote her debut novel, “Run, River.” In 1968, she published her first non-fiction book, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” a collection of essays about her Californian experiences. In 1970, she published “Play It as It Lays” and, in 1977, “A Book of Common Prayer.” “The White Album” (1979) followed, and in 1983, she wrote “Salvador.” In 1992, she published “After Henry,” a collection of 12 geographical essays. After her husband’s demise in 2005, she published “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which won several awards.

Didion was an exceptionally gifted writer and novelist whose books were not just entertaining but impactful as well. Her last published work was “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” which came out in 2021. Didion preferred to keep her personal life under wraps. Didion lived a full life, sharing excerpts of her life experiences through her writing. Didion passed away from Parkinson’s disease on December 23, 2021, in New York, U.S.

Career timeline

Her First Book

Didion's debut novel, “Run, River,” is out.

Her Nervous Breakdown

In her book “The White Album,” a collection of her articles in various magazines, she describes her nervous breakdown, struggles with vertigo and nausea, and the treatments she took.

A Memoir For a Friend

Didion dedicates her book “After Henry,” to her late friend, Henry Robbins.

Her Swan Song

Her last book is “Let Me Tell You What I Mean.”

Why We Love Joan Didion

  1. She was talented

    Didion’s writings are not just entertaining but highly dynamic and make the reader think and analyze. She has shared relatable parts of her life through her books and scripted them with such an enviable talent.

  2. She was hard-working

    Didion was a prolific writer and continued writing till her last days. The way she dedicatedly worked her way up at her job and published one book after another shows that she was hardworking and extremely devoted to writing.

  3. She loved her family

    Didion loved and prioritized her family. She was heartbroken when they passed away. Her husband and daughter died in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. She had social anxiety

    Didion had social anxiety during her growing-up years but overcame it through theater and public speaking.

  2. She adopted a daughter

    In 1996, Didion adopted a daughter and named her Quintana Roo Dunne.

  3. Her husband died suddenly

    Didion’s husband, Dunne, died suddenly of a heart attack when her daughter was hospitalized.

  4. She was honored

    Didion was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the President of the United States, Barrack Obama.

  5. She had a psychiatric evaluation

    Didion was diagnosed with vertigo and nausea after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Joan Didion FAQs

What illness did Joan Didion have?

She has multiple sclerosis.

What is Joan Didion’s most famous work?

Didion’s most famous work is arguably “Play It As It Lays.”

What happened to Quintana Roo Dunne?

She hit her head when she fell and sustained a head injury at an airport. She was hospitalized but succumbed to acute pancreatitis at the age of 39.

Joan Didion’s birthday dates

2024December 5Thursday
2025December 5Friday
2026December 5Saturday
2027December 5Sunday
2028December 5Tuesday

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