As a kid, Dillard and her sisters attended a Presbyterian church. During her rebellious teenage years, however, she practically quit being Christian because of the 'hypocrisy' of the church. This ended when her minister gave her a stack of C.S. Lewis' theological novels. In many of Dillard's books, there are references to Christianity, but also Judaism, Buddhism, Sufism, and even Eskimo spirituality. This is because Annie became "spiritually promiscuous", meaning she incorporated ideas from many religions into her own believing. In the '90s, she converted to Roman Catholicism.
Dillard's teenage years were filled with angst, and trouble at school. Poetry became one her main interests during her teen years. Dillard even started writing poetry on her own, sometimes in her own style, and sometimes imitating her favorite poets' styles. She became particularly interested in Ralph Waldo Emerson.
After high school, Annie attended Hollins College in Virginia, studying literature. This is where she met R.H. W. Dillard, her writing teacher, who she later married. In 1968, she graduated with a Masters in English. After college, she spent most of her time painting, writing, and had several poems published.
In 1971, Annie had a near-fatal account with pneumonia. After recovering, she decided she wanted to experience life more fully, and began to write Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She had spent a year living near Tinker Creek, an area surrounded by forests and mountains. Annie was nervous about...