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West Virginia Women Writers: Denise Giardina

In the Collection

State Library Services

State Library Services
1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Culture Center, Building 9
Charleston, WV 25305

Phone: (304) 558-2045

Denise Giardina (1951 - ) Charleston, Kanawha County

Born and raised in the West Virginia coalfields, Denise Giardina is an ordained Episcopal Church deacon, a community activist, and a former candidate for governor of WV.  Her novels, fictionalizing historical characters and events, have been critically acclaimed and recognized with a number of literary prizes.

Giardina grew up in a West Virginia coal mining camp called Black Wolf. Many family members worked in underground mines, but her mother was a nurse and her father a bookkeeper for a coal company. They moved to Charleston when the mining camp closed. She graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1973, later earning a Master’s in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary.


Emily’s Ghost. New York: W.W. Norton,   c2009.

Fallam's Secret. New York: W.W. Norton, c2003.

Good King Harry. New York: Ballantine Pub., 1999, c1984.

 CT F GIARDINA  Saints and Villians. New York: Fawcett, 1999, c1998.

Storming Heaven. New York : Ballantine Books, 1988, c1987.

Unquiet Earth.  New York: Norton, c1992. 

Backcountry: Contemporary Writing in West Virginia, edited by Irene McKinney. Morgantown [W.Va.]: Vandalia Press, 2002.

Appalachia a History of Mountains and People. A film series by Jamie Ross and Ross Spears. [Riverdale, MD]: Agee Films, [2009] Includes Denise Giardina.

Fallam's Secret.  Denise Giardina talks with Gordon Simmons about Fallam's Secret. Charleston, WV: WVLC Video Services, p2003.

“Unquiet Earth”: An Environmental Fiction Novel. Ray George, host; Denise Giardina, guest. Charleston, WV: WVLC Video Studios, 1999. Giardina discusses her novel , “Unquiet Earth,” and her early coal camp childhood.

Gift Horse. Production of WNPB-TV Morgantown for West Virginia Public Television. Screenplay by Denise Giardina; produced by West Virginia Public Television; directed and edited by Tom Nicholson; produced by Chip Hitchcock, Benjamin Wolf. 1996


Biographical Links




2004 --  Included on the West Virginia Literary Map, From A Place Called Solid: West Virginia and its Writers, from the West Virginia Folk Life Center at Fairmont State University.

2002  --  Appalachian Heritage Writer–in-Residence at Shepherd University

2000  --  Lille D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing  from Morehead State University

1999  --  Fisk Fiction Prize, Saints and Villains

1998  --  Thomas and Lille D. Chaffin Award from Moorehead State University

1998  --  Emory and Henry College Literary Festival

1997  --  West Virginia Library Association Literary Merit Award 

1996  --  National Endowment for the Arts Grant

1993  --  American Book Award, The Unquiet Earth 

1992  --  Weatherford Award for Significant Appalachian Work, Fiction, Unquiet Earth 

1992  --  Lillian Smith Book Award, Storming Heaven 

1988  --  Appalachian Book of the Year, Saints and Villains 

1988  --  National Endowment for the Arts Grant

1987  --  Weatherford Award for Significant Appalachian Work, Fiction, Storming Heaven 

West Virginia Library Commission
1900 Kanawha Blvd East | Culture Center, Bldg. 9 | Charleston, WV 25305
In-State Toll Free : (800) 642-9021 | (304) 558-2041