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Phyllis Raphael was born in Brooklyn, graduated from Barnard College with a major in English and worked as an elementary school teacher and an actress before she began writing in London in 1969 when she was in her early thirties. She had come to London from Los Angeles to join her film producer husband on location and brought their three young children with her. Soon after she arrived her marriage ended and, surprising herself, she decided to stay in England. She had come for two months but stayed for two and a half years. Her decision changed the course of her life. She fell in love with London and expatriate life during those "swinging" years. She took a job as a researcher to a writer with whom she co-authored a book (Beyond The Senses, Tabori and Raphael) and worked as an editorial assistant at Penthouse Magazine. The proximity to a typewriter got her started writing her own stories and essays. The first one she sent out was published in a National British Magazine, She, and after that she kept on writing.

Back in New York in 1972, Raphael published a novel(They Got What They Wanted) with W.W., Norton and Popular Library Paperbacks and began writing personal essays for The Village Voice which, at the time, was known as "a writer's newspaper." Her desire to understand more about the writing process led her to Columbia University where she registered for a course in fiction writing with the legendary novelist and teacher, J. R. (Dick) Humphreys. When the class ended he offered her a teaching job.

Phyllis Raphael's numerous,often humorous short stories and essays have appeared in The Village Voice, Harpers, O - The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Boulevard, Creative Non Fiction Magazine, The American Book Review, Cosmopolitan, Mirabella, Redbook, Penthouse, Mc Calls, Ladies Home Journal and The Norton Anthology, Seasons of Women. She is the winner of a PEN award for short fiction and has been awarded three Yaddo Fellowships. She has taught creative writing at New York University and The New School. Until recently she taught at Columbia University where she was a long time member of the writing faculty. Currently she is teaching a popular advanced private workshop on the upper west side of Manhattan ( see events page). She lives in New York City. She has three children and nine grandchildren.