Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. His first short stories appeared in Esquire during Gordon Lish's tenure as fiction editor in the 1970s. Carver's work began to reach a wider audience with the 1976 publication of Will You Please be Quiet, Please, but it was not until the 1981 publication of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love under Gordon Lish, then at Knopf, that he began to achieve real literary fame. This collection was edited by more than 40 per cent before publication, and Carver dedicated it to his fellow writer and future wife, Tess Gallagher, with the promise that he would one day republish his stories at full length. He went on to write two more collections of stories, Cathedral and Elephant, which moved away from the earlier minimalist style into a new expansiveness, as well as several collections of poetry. He died in 1988, aged fifty.
Tess Gallagher (born 1943) is an acclaimed poet, essayist, author and playwright. Her honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment for the Arts awards, and the Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award. She met Raymond Carver at a writers' conference in 1978, and the couple were married in 1988, six weeks prior to his death. As his will directed, she assumed the management of his literary estate. She published five Carver stories posthumously in Call If You Need Me, and successfully campaigned for the republishing of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love as Beginners, in their original and intended form.