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Hart, Ellen (b. 1949)  
 
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Prolific mystery writer Ellen Hart has two extremely successful series of novels. She has garnered five Lambda Literary Awards for lesbian mystery fiction.

Hart was born Patricia Ellen Boehnhardt on August 10, 1949 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She recalls a happy childhood filled with good music and good food. Her grandmother loved opera, and her mother had once hoped to become a concert pianist. Hart also studied piano and achieved a considerable degree of accomplishment.

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The love of food that Hart's mother and grandmother inspired would prove a lifelong influence, as did the gift from her parents of the entire set of Sherlock Holmes stories.

After graduating from high school Hart enrolled in Ambassador College, an institution in Pasadena, California that was affiliated with the Worldwide Church of God. She earned a bachelor's degree in theology in 1971.

Her disillusionment with the church began when she learned that a friend and fellow student had become pregnant by the Vice Chancellor of the college, who then sent her away to have the baby.

Hart remained in the employ of the college in the Home Economics/Interior Design department until 1975, when she quit and moved back to her native state.

Hart's best friend from college, Kathleen Kruger, had also returned to Minnesota. When she divorced her husband in the late 1970s, she and her two daughters relocated to Minneapolis and moved into an apartment with Hart.

It was the beginning of a wonderful family. Hart and Kruger have been devoted partners for decades. Hart has legally adopted Kruger's daughters, Shawna and Bethany, whom she describes, along with Shawna's husband, Tom, as "truly the light of our lives." Hart and Kruger also have two grandsons.

Becoming a novelist was not a career path that Hart envisioned early on. After leaving Ambassador College she studied to become a chef. She spent over a decade as the kitchen manager at a sorority house and also plied her culinary skills in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Both of Hart's fictional sleuths, Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenway, share her passion for good food: Lawless owns a restaurant, and Greenway is a food critic.

A lifelong love of reading led Hart to try her hand at writing fiction in 1987. She was about two hundred pages into her first attempt at a mystery novel when, she has stated, "I realized that I didn't have a clue what I was doing." As a consequence, she began reading mysteries "voraciously" and studying their structure in order to understand the "very specific architecture" of the genre.

Hart's first published novel, Hallowed Murder (1989), was enthusiastically received and won her nominations for both a Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a Minnesota Book Award for Best Crime Fiction.

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