Bache Gets Back to What She Loves

Ellyn Bache arrived at the University of Maryland imbued with a joyous enthusiasm for literature. The plan was to earn a Ph.D. and begin a career teaching a subject she loved. But as tends to be the case, the best laid plans often go awry.


After earning her master's degree in 1967 and finishing course work for the Ph.D., Bache married and had her first child. Ultimately, Ellyn and her husband decided to leave the D.C. area and her academic career was cut short. Adopting a new plan, Ellyn turned her love of literature into a career as an author. "I ended up writing novels. It was a wonderful career to combine with being a stay-at-home mom during the years our four children were young, and a perfect career to take with me during some major moves later on. Not many jobs are so happily portable."

Ellyn's career took off. Many of her twelve books have become Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club Selections. Safe Passage, an award-winning novel published in 1988, was made into a film starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Shepard, Nick Stahl, Marcia Gay Harden, and Sean Astin. Ellyn's writing has also appeared in literary magazines such as Shenandoah and Carolina Quarterly. A collection of short stories, The Value of Kindness, won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize.

Now living in upstate South Carolina, Ellyn continues to share her passion for writing with others. She regularly leads workshops and lectures for developing writers on publishing and craft. "I don't think I would have had the confidence to do either the writing or the teaching without my M.A.," says Ellyn. "It was my English literature studies that helped me feel I knew enough about good writing to try it."

Ellyn wrote her masters thesis on inconsistencies in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. "I thought, 'Who on earth cares about this?' I sure didn't." Clearly, though, people were interested and part of Ellyn's thesis was published in the Journal of English and German Philology. What Ellyn took away, though, was that she loved and admired Malory's writing, not the practice of dissecting it. "I decided not to lose sight of that. I don't think I ever have."

Ellyn's Advice to
Current English Majors
    Enjoy everything you get a chance to read. You might not get the chance to come this way again.
    Don't lose sight of what you love about literature.
    A command of language not only enriches your life, but opens new doors. Take these opportunities as they come.




Check Out Ellyn's Success
You can keep up with Ellyn through her website, where she maintains a calendar of book signings, workshops, and other events. The site also includes discussion questions for book clubs, a collection of press releases and interviews, as well as ordering information for all of her works. Ellyn's books are also listed on the English Department's alumni bookshelf.