Nebraska Authors

Ronald Hansen

AKA: Ron Hansen

Born 1947 Omaha, NE (USA)

Ron Hansen was born and raised in Omaha, NE, where he attended Creighton Preparatory School and Creighton University. After serving in the US Army, Hansen went on to study creative writing at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop under celebrated author John Irving, with whom he developed an ongoing friendship. He is the author of numerous award-winning novels, short stories, and essays. Two of his novels have been adapted as motion pictures: The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (starring Brad Pitt) and Mariette in Ecstasy.

Hansen is an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church, and has published collection of essays on faith and fiction: A Stay Against Confusion. His faith has informed his novels as well, including the darkly thrilling Mariette in Ecstasy, about a young nun experiencing a crisis of faith. He has said that his interest in writing literary westerns stems from his childhood in Nebraska and the state's wide-open landscape. His 2016 novel The Kid (about Billy the Kid) completed a trilogy of western novels examining the lives of real outlaws that began with the publication of Desperadoes (the Dalton gang) in 1979 and continued with his The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in 1983.

Places Lived

Omaha, NE
Lincoln, NE
Columbus, NE
New York
Cupertino, CA

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction


Novels, Short Stories, Screenplays, Essays, Book Reviews; Historical Fiction; Westerns; Religion


Holy Angels Grade School, Omaha, NE
Latin Diploma, Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE
BA in English, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, 1970
MFA in Creative Writing, University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, 1974
MA in Spirituality, Santa Clara University, 1995
The Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, 2000-2003


Professor of Fiction and Screenwriting

Places Worked

University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Clara University
Stanford University
State University of New York, Binghamton
University of Nebraska
University of Arizona
Wichita State University
Cornell University
University of Iowa
University of Michigan
Middlebury College
Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Wallace Stegner Writing Fellow, Stanford University, 1977-78
Shane Stevens Fellowship, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, 1979
The Bordeaux Prize from the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux, 1983
John Edgar Wideman Award for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 1984
Literature Fellow, National Endowment of the Arts, 1979 & 1987
Lawrence Award for Fiction for the Story “Nebraska” in Prairie Schooner, 1987
American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, 1989
John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 1990
Creighton University Alumni Achievement Award, 1991
Fiction Prize, Bay Area Reviewers Association, for Mariette in Ecstasy, 1991
Gold Medal for Excellence in Fiction, Commonwealth Club of California, for Mariette in Ecstasy, 1991
The Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award in Fiction for Mariette in Ecstasy, 1992
Lyndhurst Foundation Fellow, 1993-95
Finalist, National Book Award, for Atticus, 1996
Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award, for Atticus, 1997
Finalist, Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award in Fiction, for Atticus, 1997
The Glenna Luschei Award for “Wilde in Omaha,” the best short fiction published in
Prairie Schooner, 2005
Creighton Preparatory School Alumni Achievement Award, 2005
The Nebraska Book Award in Fiction for Exiles, 2009
The Marianist Award, University of Dayton and the Society of Mary, 2010
The Denise Levertov Award from the journal Image and Seattle Pacific University, 2010
Nebraska 150 Books honor for Nebraska: Stories, 2017


As a student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Hansen was taught by author John Irving.
Married to author Bo Caldwell.


Desperadoes. 1979.
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. 1983.
The Shadowmaker. 1987.
You Don't Know What Love Is. 1987. (Editor)
Nebraska: Stories. 1989.
Mariette in Ecstasy. 1991.
You've Got to Read This. 1994. (Co-editor with Jim Shepard)
Atticus. 1996.
Hitler's Niece. 1999.
A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction. 2001.
Isn't It Romantic?: An Entertainment. 2003.
Exiles. 2008.
A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion. 2011.
She Loves Me Not: New and Selected Stories. 2012.
The Kid. 2016.

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Ronald Hansen

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)