Rudolfo Anaya was born on October 30, 1937 in Pastura, New Mexico and he grew up in the nearby town of Santa Rosa. He left Santa Rosa when he was in the eighth grade and moved to Albuquerque where he attended high school, then continued his education at the University of New Mexico where he got his bachelor’s degree in 1963 and his master’s degree in 1968. Anaya began writing Bless Me, Ultima in 1963 while he was attending graduate school and working as a public school teacher in Albuquerque. Seven years later he finished the book. The novel received wide recognition and rave reviews. Bless Me, Ultima is largely autobiographical, as Anaya drew on the religious and political issues that shaped his experience as a Hispanic American living in the Southwest during World War II (1939-1945). His father was a vaquero (a sheep and cattle rancher) and his mother came from a farming family, but Anaya himself always aspired to write. From a young age he loved storytelling and was captivated with the myths and legends of his ancestors and of the land. When Bless Me, Ultima won him the prestigious Premio Quinto Sol literary award in 1971, he was able to quit teaching and concentrate solely on his writing. Later, however, he resumed teaching. He taught summer classes for the New Mexico Writers Workshop from 1977 to 1979, then in 1988 he became a professor and taught creative writing and Chicano literature at the University of New Mexico. Bless Me, Ultima won numerous awards and launched his career as one of the most influential Chicano writers of his time. His impressive collection of manuscripts is archived at the Zimmerman Museum at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.