Iconic American author Joan Didion has died at 87 from Parkinson’s disease, The New York Times reports. Didion became most well known and regarded for her nonfiction which often blurred the lines between journalistic feature and personal essay. For her 1968 collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem, she covered musicians like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, and more. Over the course of her career, Didion published five novels, six screenplays, and many more works of nonfiction. Her most recent, South and West: From a Notebook, came out in 2017. Another collection of essays, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, was issued earlier this year. Didion was also the subject of a Netflix documentary about her life and work, titled Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.
Joan Didion was born in Sacramento, California, where she grew up reading and writing a great deal. After earning a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, she won an essay contest sponsored by Vogue and landed a job as a research assistant at the magazine. She stayed with Vogue for seven years, eventually becoming the magazine’s associate features editor.
Didion published her first novel in 1963, Run, River. She met her husband, fellow writer and editor John Gregory Dunne, while working on the novel, and the two eventually relocated back to California. Didion and Dunne’s partnership extended beyond support for each other’s work; they wrote several projects together, including the screenplay of Didion’s 1970 novel Play It as It Lays, as well as a biography of journalist Jessica Savitch, titled Up Close & Personal. After losing both Dunne and their daughter Quintana in the early years of the millennium, Didion wrote two books about grief, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. She won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for the former.