Ellis Avery, born in 1972, was a writer and teacher. Born in New York, she grew up in Ohio and New Jersey and attended Bryn Mawr College, where she made many lifelong friends who rallied to support her during her final struggle with cancer. After receiving an MFA from Goddard College, Ellis moved to New York City, where in 1999 she met her life partner Sharon Marcus.
Ellis was the author of two award-winning novels, both published by Riverhead Press: THE TEAHOUSE FIRE and THE LAST NUDE. She also wrote two memoirs, THE SMOKE WEEK and THE FAMILY TOOTH. Ellis taught creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Columbia University, where she inspired, guided, and nurtured many students.
For many years, Ellis suffered from disabling reactive arthritis. She was first diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2012. She met the challenges of those illnesses with a furious will to live her best life. After living cancer-free for five years after surgery in 2012, she learned in 2017 that the leiomyosarcoma had recurred. She received expert and humane treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Center, and died of the disease on February 15th, 2019.
Ellis was committed to finding beauty in the world and believed in the power of attention. To record her discoveries, she wrote a haiku a day , every day, for twenty years. For the past several years, she has turned those haiku into datebooks. You can buy the book that records her last full year’s worth of haiku here: http://www.harvard.com/book/haiku_datebook_2019/
Ellis hated having cancer and hated that she did not get more life. Anything you can contribute to help researchers learn more about how to cure or manage this disease would be a great honor to her memory.