CARSON MCCULLERS Biography - Writers


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Name: Carson McCullers                                                                           
Born: February 19, 1917                                                                         
Died: September 29, 1967                                                                         
Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917 - September 29, 1967) was an American writer.               
Her first novel explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the                 
South. Her other writings deal with a wide scope of personal and social issues                   
in other geographical locations.                                                                 
She was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgia in 1917 of middle class                     
parentage. Her mother was the granddaughter of a plantation owner and                           
Confederate War hero. Her father, similar to Wilbur Kelly in The Heart Is a                     
Lonely Hunter, was a well-to-do watchmaker and jeweler of French Huguenot                       
extraction. From the age of five she took piano lessons, and at the age of 15                   
she received a typewriter from her father.                                                       
Two years later she was sent to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City                   
to study the piano, but never attended the school, having lost the money set                     
aside for her tuition. McCullers worked in menial jobs and studied creative                     
writing under Texas writer Dorothy Scarborough at night classes at Columbia                     
University and Washington Square College. She decided to become a writer and                     
published in 1936 an autobiographical piece, Wunderkind, in Story magazine. It                   
depicted a musical prodigy's failure and adolescent insecurity.                                 
In 1935 she moved to North Carolina, and in 1937 she married a soldier and                       
struggling writer, Reeves McCullers. There she wrote her first novel The Heart                   
Is a Lonely Hunter, in the Southern Gothic tradition. The title, suggested by                   
McCullers's editor, was taken from Fiona MacLeod's poem 'The Lonely Hunter'. The                 
novel itself was interpreted as an anti-fascist book. Altogether she published                   
eight books. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), written at the age of twenty-three,           
and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), are the most well-known. The novella The                 
Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951) also depicts loneliness and the pain of unrequited                 
love. She was an alumna of Yaddo in Saratoga, New York.                                         
McCullers's marriage was unsuccessful, with both parties having homosexual                       
relationships; McCullers and Reeves separated in 1940 and divorced in 1941.                     
After she separated from Reeves, she moved to New York to live with George Davis,               
the editor of Harper's Bazaar. In Brooklyn, McCullers became a member of the art                 
commune February House. Among their friends were W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten,                 
and Paul and Jane Bowles. After World War II, McCullers lived mostly in Paris.                   
Her close friends during these years included Truman Capote and Tennessee                       
In 1945, McCullers and Reeves remarried. Three years later, she attempted                       
suicide while depressed. In 1953, Reeves tried to convince McCullers to commit                   
suicide with him, but she fled.[1] After McCullers left him, Reeves killed                       
himself in their Paris hotel with an overdose of sleeping pills. McCullers's                     
bittersweet play, The Square Root of Wonderful (1957), was an attempt to examine                 
these traumatic experiences. The Member of the Wedding (1946) describes the                     
feelings of a young girl at her brother's wedding. The Broadway production of                   
the novel had a successful run in 1950-51 and was produced by the Young Vic in                   
London in September 2007.