Bestselling novelist, national public speaker, nonprofit fundraiser. Dorothy Frank and her four siblings were born and reared on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.
Frank attended Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina, and graduated from General William Moultrie High School in 1969. Her interest in retail apparel took her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she graduated from the Fashion Institute of America in 1972. For a short period she lived in Atlanta and was employed in the Atlanta Apparel Mart by College Town Sportswear. She returned to Charleston in 1973 and became a buyer for Kerrison’s Department Store. In 1974 she was hired by Byer California and moved to San Francisco, California. A year later, she relocated to New York City and worked on 7th Avenue for Fire Islander Sportswear, Heralcorp Industries, and Michael Lerner. She retired from the apparel industry in 1985.
In 1983 she married Peter Frank (b. 1947) and moved to Montclair, New Jersey, shortly after the birth of their first child, Victoria Hannah Frank (b. 1985). In 1988, their son, William Richard Frank was born.
While her children were young, Frank became a volunteer fundraiser, organizing events for various nonprofit organizations around the Metropolitan New York area. Past board service includes the Montclair Art Museum, the Whole Theatre Company, the Drumthwacket Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the New Jersey Cultural Trust. More recently, she has served on the board of trustees of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the parents council of the College of Charleston. At the present time, Frank is a trustee of Bloomfield College (Bloomfield, New Jersey), the Montclair Film Festival (New Jersey), and the South Carolina Historical Society.
Her first novel, Sullivan’s Island (2000), which debuted on the New York Times list at number nine and has been reprinted over twenty-five times, now totals well over one million copies printed in ten languages. Her subsequent novels Plantation (2002), Isle of Palms (2003), Shem Creek (2004), Pawley’s Island (2005), Full of Grace (2006), Bull’s Island (2006), The Christmas Pearl and Land of Mango Sunsets (2008), Lowcountry Summer (2009), Return to Sullivan’s Island (2010), Folly Beach (2011), and Porch Lights (2012) were all New York Times bestsellers and may also be found in various foreign languages.
A prolific author of women’s fiction, Frank is a disciplined writer who works daily at her craft. She spins yarns—full of southern wisdom and wit—about the beauty, magic, and charm of the Carolina lowcountry. The protagonists of her books, resilient women whose priorities are family and home, cope with fragile and often dysfunctional relationships. For female readers of all ages, she writes about identity and their bittersweet journeys to find themselves through a sense of place. The inspiration for her regional settings is the Carolina lowcountry and its natural beauty. Pat Conroy says that Frank’s books “are funny . . . and usually damp with seawater.” Frank’s latest book, The Last Original Wife (2013), conforms to this basic pattern of character development and setting. Feeling isolated in an Atlanta-based social set dominated by second wives, Leslie Carter takes a break from her daily routine and travels to her brother’s home in the Carolina lowcountry to reexamine her marriage and her life’s goals.
Frank is currently working on a book that incorporates the life of Josephine Pinckney, a novelist, poet, and leading light of the Charleston Renaissance. Pinckney cofounded the Poetry Society of South Carolina (PSSC) with DuBose Heyward, who figures prominently as a character in Frank’s novel Folly Beach.
Dorothy Benton Frank is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the College of Charleston and a doctorate of fine arts from Bloomfield College. An avid cook, Frank enjoys fly fishing, reading fiction and historical biography, and travelling. She is a frequent speaker on the creative process for students of all ages. Frank divides her time between New Jersey and the Carolina lowcountry.
Dixon, Chris. “Writing Her Way Home.” New York Times, September 26, 2008. “Dorothea Benton Frank.” Baker & Taylor Author Biographies (2000): 1.