Born November 12, 1945 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Michael Lawson Bishop was the son of Leotis ("Lee") Bishop and Maxine ("Mac") Matison. As the child of an enlisted member of the US Air Force, he grew up in several locations throughout the world, including Japan and Spain. Most of his school years were spent in Mulvane, Kansas with his mother after his parents’ divorce.
Michael entered the University of Georgia in 1963, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1967, and later a master's degree in English. In 1969, he married Jeri Ellis Whitaker of Columbus, Georgia. As an Air Force enlistee, he taught English at the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs from 1968 to 1972. After his service, he taught composition and English literature at the University of Georgia in Athens. A son, Jamie, was born in 1971, and a daughter, Stephanie in 1973.
After a few sales to magazines, Michael left teaching in 1974 to become a full-time writer. He and Jeri moved their family to Pine Mountain. In those early years of freelance writing, he would occasionally work as a substitute teacher in the public schools and as a stringer for the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus. In 1996, he became writer-in-residence at LaGrange College. He taught creative writing courses and an occasional January interim-term course. In 2001, Michael received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from LaGrange College. He held his teaching position there until retiring in Spring 2012.
He and Jeri, former counselor at Rosemont Elementary School, have two grandchildren, Annabel and Joel Loftin, by their daughter Stephanie, pastor at Light of Hope Presbyterian Church in Mableton, Georgia. On April 16, 2007, their son Jamie, a German language instructor, was tragically killed at Virginia Tech.
Michael’s writing career can justly be described as being one of the most significant and admired bodies of work ever produced by an American author of science fiction and fantasy. He published fifteen solo novels, three collaborative novels, and more than 150 pieces of short fiction, most of which have been gathered into twelve collections. Michael also published poems and essays, many of which have also been collected. From his first novel published in 1975 to a story collection published in 2021, he produced work that was both influential to other authors and loved by his readers. He was twice awarded the Nebula, the most prestigious award in the science fiction field, and was chosen to be the guest of honor at dozens of conventions and writing conferences. Among his many other awards, Michael won the Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2017, and was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2018.
Through his writing and through his life, Michael Bishop taught us, his family, his friends, his readers, his students, what it meant to be human and to question our roles in this world. His lessons will not soon be forgotten.
Michael is survived by aforementioned wife, daughter, grandchildren and step-brother Charles “Bob” Willis and step-sister Barbara “Ann” Reese.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Michael to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) https://umcmission.org/advance-project/00779z/
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held 2:00 P.M. Sunday November 19, 2023 at First United Methodist Church Pine Mountain Georgia. A reception will follow the service in the Family Life Center in the church.
Those wishing to share a condolence or remembrance with the family may do so by visiting www.shlagrange.com.
Arrangements are by Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange, GA 30240 (706) 884-8636.