Frances Mayes

Bestselling Author of Under the Tuscan Sun
and A Year in the World

Frances Mayes has always adored houses, and when she saw Bramasole, a neglected, 200-year old Tuscan farmhouse nestled in five overgrown acres, it was love at first sight. Out of that instant infatuation have come six marvelous, and hugely popular, books. The bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun, remained on The New York Times bestseller list for two and a half years years and was later made into a popular film starring Diane Lane. The other international best sellers are: Bella Tuscany, and Every Day in Tuscany, the last in her Tuscan trilogy. She has published two photo-texts, In Tuscany, a collaborative photo-textbook with her husband, the poet Edward Mayes and photographer Bob Krist, and Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style from the Heart of Italy, another collaborative book with Edward Mayes and photographer Steven Rothfeld. All of her highly personal books are about taking chances, living in Italy, loving and renovating an old Italian villa, the pleasures of food, wine, gardens, and the “voluptuousness of Italian life.” The books are translated into more than forty languages.

Recent projects include  The Passionate Traveler Journal, a blank book with quotes and her most recent book, co-authored with Edward Mayes, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from My Italian Kitchen.

Her first novel, Swan, a family saga and mystery, returns Mayes to her childhood home of Georgia. She is also the author of the travel memoir entitled A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller, which immediately debuted as a New York Times bestseller. In addition, Frances Mayes was the editor for the 2002 Best American Travel Writing. Working again with Steven Rothfeld, she also published Shrines: Images of Italian Worship.

A widely published poet and essayist, Frances Mayes has written numerous books of poetry, including Sunday in Another Country, After Such Pleasures, The Arts of Fire, Hours, The Book of Summer, and Ex Voto. Her text The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems is widely used in college poetry classes. Her most recent book is her widely acclaimed memoir of growing up in the south, Under Magnolia (April 2014).

Formerly a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing, Mayes now devotes herself full time to writing and to her “At Home in Tuscany” furniture and accessory lines.  She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Tuscany.


"No one could have invented a more combustible, joy-starved pair of glam and oblivious parents or a more incandescent child to dive into the blue ruins, explore the sealed off passages, blacked-out dreams and neglected outlets by the beams of her own incredulous eyes; then break the surface a smart-mouthed, truth-seeing sensualist, fully in attendance to the vibratory moment. The deft framing, the exacting word picks, apposite references, high speed wit, singled out synecdoches of a life; the cadence, phrasing, and pulse of a muted Georgian accent are all signature to the prose and poetry, stove-tops and passport stamps of Frances Mayes. In her memoir Under Magnolia they are second skin. When she comes clean, you feel, can I say it, cleansed. Freer. Floatable. What an offering." C.D. Wright
"Under Magnolia is one of the most brilliant memoirs ever written, shedding new light on a certain mysterious South and offering a memorable portrait of the artist as a young girl. Frances Mayes, a petite, brainy beauty from what we used to call politely “a troubled home” has written an unnervingly honest and refreshingly open account of how a child can be neglected even amid privilege and a large family... Reader, artist, scholar, poet—Frances Mayes gradually became the aesthete and writer she is today, a passionate lover of the world and the word." Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth
"Tuscany may have found its own bard in Frances Mayes." The New York Times
"Frances Mayes is an elegant and gracious speaker. She quickly engaged the audience of more than 1000 people, who arrived eager to hear everything she had to say about Tuscany, and left with their expectations met and then exceeded." — North Suburban Library, Wheeling, IL
Frances Mayes©Will Garin