Didion is one of the most highly regarded contemporary American writers of essays and novels. In her writing she focuses on the disintegration of American morals in both the public and private spheres and the cultural chaos that results from individual and societal fragmentation, using her own subjective experiences and observations as a vantage point.
Didion was born in Sacramento, California, in 1934. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956, she took a job as a promotional copywriter at Vogue magazine in New York, eventually rising to the position of associate feature editor. In this period she met and married John Gregory Dunne, with whom she collaborated on screenplays. Didion's first novel, Run River, was published in 1963, while she still worked at Vogue. The next year she and Dunne moved back to California, where Didion worked as a freelance reporter. Didion's writing soon attracted national attention, and some of her impressive early essays were collected in her first nonfiction work, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968). Didion has earned numerous awards and honors for her writing.