|Born||Marianne Deborah Williamson
July 8, 1952
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Education||Bellaire High School|
|Alma mater||Pomona College|
|Occupation||New Age guru, self-help author|
Sophie Ann Williamson
Marianne Deborah Williamson (born July 8, 1952) is an American spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published ten books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a grass roots campaign supporting legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace. She serves on the Board of Directors of the RESULTS organization, which works to end poverty in the United States and around the world. Williamson is also the force behind Sister Giant, a series of seminars and teaching sessions that provides women with the information and tools needed to be political candidates. Through these seminars, she encourages women to run for office and align their politics with their spiritual values.
She has been a guest on television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose and Real Time with Bill Maher. In December 2006, a Newsweek magazine poll named her one of the fifty most influential baby boomers. According to Time magazine, "Yoga, the Cabala and Marianne Williamson have been taken up by those seeking a relationship with God that is not strictly tethered to Christianity." Williamson bases her teaching and writing on a set of books called A Course in Miracles, a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy, based on universal spiritual themes.
On October 20, 2013, she announced her candidacy for California's 33rd Congressional District in the race to fill Representative Henry Waxman's seat after his retirement. In an open primary field of 16 candidates, Williamson came in fourth.
Williamson was born to a Jewish family in Houston, Texas, in 1952. She is the youngest of three children of Samuel "Sam" Williamson, an immigration lawyer, and his homemaker wife, Sophie Ann (Kaplan). After graduating from Houston's Bellaire High School, Williamson put in two years studying theater and philosophy at Pomona College in Claremont, California before dropping out in her Junior year and moving to New York City to pursue a career as a cabaret singer.
In 1979 Williamson returned to Houston, where she ran a metaphysical bookstore. In 1987 she helped found the Los Angeles Center for Living, a support facility for those with life-threatening illnesses. Two years later she began Project Angel Food, to deliver meals to AIDS patients. In 1990 Williamson had her only child, India Emmaline. She refuses to identify or discuss the father of India, and instead chose to raise India alone as an “unwed Jewish mother.”
Popular culture references
References to Williamson's book A Return To Love are made in the film Coach Carter (2005), the film Akeelah and the Bee (2006), and the novel Badulina: Return of the Queen, by Israeli author Gabi Nitzan.
A paragraph from A Return to Love has become popular as an inspirational quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
The paragraph is frequently misattributed to Nelson Mandela but in fact was neither written nor quoted by the late South African President.
- A Return to Love, First Edition 1992 (ISBN 9780060927486)
- Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century: Visions of a Better Future from Leading American Thinkers (ISBN 0451204697)
- Emma & Mommy Talk to God (ISBN 9780060799267)
- Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens (ISBN 9780684846224)
- A Woman's Worth (ISBN 9780345386571)
- Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships (ISBN 9780684870250)
- Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, And Making Miracles (ISBN 9781573223515)
- Illuminata: A Return to Prayer (ISBN 9781573225205)
- The Gift of Change (ISBN 0060816112)
- The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles (ISBN 0062205412)
Williamson officiated at the California wedding of Larry Fortensky and Elizabeth Taylor.
Her college roommate was film producer Lynda Obst.
Williamson has sold a combined more than 3,000,000 books, a canon which led New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich to label her a "self-help guru".