Dawkins completed a bachelor of arts in English at the University of Alabama in 1949 and continued her studies at Stanford University in Stanford, California. She was awarded a creative writing fellowship in her second year and earned a Master's in English Literature in 1953.
Dawkins published her first collection of short stories, The Quiet Enemy, in 1963. Her two-act play based on stories by Flannery O'Connor, "The Displaced Person", was produced by the American Place Theater of New York, New York in 1966. Her first novel, The Live Goat, won a Harper-Saxton Fellowship and was published in 1971. She followed up with Charleyhorse in 1985.
In the 1990s, Dawkins authored a series of mystery novels set in New Mexico. In 2002 she completed a biography of Albuquerque entrepreneur Frances Minerva Nunnery.
From 1973 to 1979 Dawkins served as Writer in Residence at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She served as a visiting instructor at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York until 1981 and a Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Hawaii in 1991. In 1996 she was appointed to the Calloway/O'Connor Chair at George College in Milledgeville, Georgia.
- "Cecil Dawkins" (October 2, 2013) Wikipedia - accessed October 2, 2013