Cary Holladay grew up in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She earned an A.B. at The College of William and Mary and an M.A. at the Pennsylvania State University, where she studied fiction writing with the novelists Robert C. S. Downs, Thomas Rogers, and Paul West, and poetry with John Balaban and John Haag.
She has published eight volumes of fiction. About 100 of her stories and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Arkansas Review, Black Warrior Review, Blackbird, Chattahoochee Review, Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Ecotone, Epoch, Five Points, Florida Review, Georgia Review, Glimmer Train, Gulf Coast, The Hudson Review, Idaho Review, Kenyon Review, Kestrel, Missouri Review, New Letters, New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, The Southern Review, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch.
Her awards include an O. Henry Prize and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work is represented by Liz Darhansoff of Darhansoff & Verrill.
Cary Holladay is a Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Memphis, where she was named a First Tennessee Professor and served as director of the creative writing program. She is a member of the core faculty at the low-residency MFA at Converse College. She and her husband, the poet and fiction writer John Bensko, live in Rapidan, Virginia.