Raymond Carver was born in Oregon on 25 May 1938. He grew up in Washington State. His father was a sawmill worker and his mother a waitress.
Carver worked with his father in a sawmill in California and then as a deliveryman. He married his first wife—Maryann—and six months later a daughter was born. A son followed.
Carver enrolled at various colleges, where his studies concentrated on creative writing. Aged twenty-two, "The Furious Seasons"—his first published story—appeared in college magazine Selection. "The Brass Ring"—his first published poem—appeared in 1962, in the little magazine Targets.
In his late twenties, Carver filed for bankruptcy. His father died. He also got his first white collar job (textbook editor), his story "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" appeared in The Best American Short Stories 1967, and a college press published the poems Near Klamath—his first book.
Carver continued to move around, move jobs, and get stories and poems published. He began to lecture. He went bankrupt again and was hospitalized with acute alcoholism. In his late thirties, the stories Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? appeared—his first major-press book. Carver stopped drinking. He met Tess Gallagher, and he and Maryann separated. The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him a fellowship to write full-time. At forty-nine, doctors diagnosed cancer. They removed part of his left lung, but the cancer recurred. He had brain radiation treatment, but cancer reappeared.
Ray and Tess married in Reno, on Friday 17 June 1988. He died at home, in Washington State, on 2 August.