Perhaps most famous for her autobiographical works The Kiss and The Mother Knot, Harrison is also known for her acclaimed novels, which include The Seal Wife; A Thousand Orange Trees; Thicker Than Water; and Envy.
After earning a bachelor's degree in Art History and English from Stanford University, she received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa's renowned Writers' Workshop.
She was raised by her grandparents and had highly troubled relationships with both her mother and her father; consequently, many of her works (both fiction and non-fiction) deal with themes of family friction and even incest.
Her marriage to her Iowa Writers' Workshop classmate Colin Harrison resulted in three children. She and Harrison settled in New York City, where she taught creative writing at Hunter College-City University of New York.
She and fellow American writer Joan Didion both became known for their novels, journalistic works, and emotionally wrenching memoirs.