Novelist and essayist Erica Jong grew up in New York City. She earned a BA from Barnard College and attended graduate school at Columbia University, where she earned an MA in 18th-century literature. She is perhaps best known for her novels, which include Fear of Flying (1973), Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones (1980), and Parachutes and Kisses (1984).
However, Jong is also an established poet. Her first collection was Fruits and Vegetables (1971), followed by Half-Lives (1973), Loveroot (1975), At the Edge of the Body (1979), Ordinary Miracles (1983), Becoming Light: New and Selected Poems (1991), and Love Comes First (2009). Her poetry explores female sexuality and often focuses on the role of women in contemporary society; her poems reveal humor, understanding, and a thorough knowledge of her literary predecessors. Critic and poet Jay Parini compared her poetry to that of Sappho, Walt Whitman, and D.H. Lawrence, and poet Muriel Rukeyser noted the “joyful agility” of Jong’s poems in Half-Lives.
The author of nonfiction memoirs, Jong has published Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir (1996) and Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life (2006).