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Biography: Bret Easton Ellis

“My work is really about a culture that pisses me off, and a world that we live in that values all the wrong things.” -New York Times Interview with Bret Easton Ellis

At the age of 41, Bret Easton Ellis is considered to be one of America's most important generation X writers, with his infamy heightened by the controversy of his third novel, American Psycho. But American Psycho certainly isn't the limit of Ellis's work, nor is he a one trick pony riding off it's success. His work contains recurring themes of young, wealthy people who indulge in excess and depravity, who are morally bankrupt and relish it. He reuses characters, locations, and in his most recent work, Luna Park has used himself as the main character, blurring the line between fiction and reality.


Bret Easton Ellis was born on March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles California. Just to clarify, his name is not Brett Easton Ellis, but "Bret". He was raised by his parents, Robert Martin Ellis, and Dale Ellis, in Sherman Oakes in the San Fernando Valley. His father was a wealthy property developer, and was also an abusive alcoholic who has by all accounts influenced the Ellis's writing. His upbringing was privelleged; he attended The Buckley School which was a housed wealthy children of film industry parents. Ellis's parents seperated around the time he was graduating from high-school, in 1982. By that time, Ellis had already written three novels, the last of which would serve as the basis for his first novel, Less Than Zero.

Ellis went on to attend Bennington College, on which he often bases fictitious colleges in his writing. He studied music but then switched to writing, and it was here that he met Joe McGinnis and was put onto a literary agent. He published Less Than Zero, his first novel, while still in college in 1985. Less Than Zero was met with critical acclaim and did extremely well. It was made into a film two years later. He then moved to New York around this time to release his second novel, Rules Of Attraction, which was criticised as being too autobiographical and never recieved the attention that his other novels have.

While in New York, Ellis decided to capture the 80's and spent time hanging out with stock-brokers in preparation for American Psycho. However, when the time came for publication, there was an uproar about the graphically violent content and his publisher for his two previous books, Simon & Schuster, refused to publish it. It was instead taken on by Vintage. American Pscho was heavily criticised, with several prominent feminists speaking out against it. Ellis also recieved several death threats. In spite of all the negative attention (an probably also because of it) American Phsycho sold excellently.

Ellis's father died in 1992. Instead of finishing his forth novel, Glamorama, in 1993 as promised, he put together a collection of previous short stories and published them as The Informers. Ellis spent eight years working on Glamorama, released in 1998, and some people said living the life it portrays. It was less controvertial than American Psycho, and is in some respects regarded as his best work.

Ellis's most recent work is Luna Park, published in 2005.


  • Less Than Zero (1985)
  • The Rules of Attraction (1987)
  • American Psycho (1991)
  • The Informers (linked short stories, 1994)
  • Glamorama (1998)
  • Luna Park (2005)


Bret Eastern Ellis is most widely associated with transgressional fiction.