Andrea Barrett was born in Boston, but grew up on Cape Cod. Originally educated in the sciences, Barrett received her B.S. in biology from Union College after extensive study under Professors Carl George and Peter Tobiessen and briefly attended a Ph.D. program in zoology. She began writing fiction seriously in her thirties, but was relatively unknown until the publication of Ship Fever, a collection of short stories which won the National Book Award in 1996. Barrett received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001 and her book Servants of the Map was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Barrett is particularly well known as a writer of historical fiction and her work reflects her lifelong interest in science as many of her characters are scientists, often nineteenth-century biologists. Barrett currently teaches at Williams College and in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She was also a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.