Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954 to a Spanish-speaking Mexican father and an English-speaking mother of Mexican descent. She is the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. While she spent most of her childhood in one of Chicago’s Puerto Rican neighborhoods, she traveled frequently to Mexico with her family. Cisneros has published books of poetry, including My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman; a children’s book titled Hair = Pelitos; and a collection of stories titled Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, among other works.
Cisneros is part of a group of Chicana and Latina writers who became prominent in the 1980s and 1990s, among them Gloria Anzaldua, Laura Esquivel, and Julia Alvarez. Chicana refers to a woman of Mexican descent who lives in the United States. Latina is a more encompassing word, referring to women from all the Latin American countries. These women were part of a larger group of American minority women, such as Amy Tan and Toni Morrison, who found success as writers at the end of the twentieth century. While many of them had been writing for some time, renewed interest in the issues of race and gender in the 1980s provided a milieu in which their work became a vital part of the dialogue taking place.
The House on Mango Street, Cisneros’ first and best known novel, received mostly positive reviews when it was published in 1984, and it has sold more than two million copies worldwide.