McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967

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Carson McCullers was born in Columbus, Georgia, as Lula Carson Smith on February 19, 1917, the first born of Lamar and Marguerite Waters Smith. Though she moved from the South in 1934 and only returned for visits, most of her writing was inspired by her southern heritage. Her mother felt she had given birth to a genius from the time Carson was very young and always remained her staunchest supporter and strongest ally. When nine years of age, Lula began studying piano and practiced six to eight hours daily, planning a career as a concert pianist. In 1930 she began using the name Carson and studying piano with Mary Tucker. Carson graduated from Columbus High School in 1933, and after her piano teacher moved away in the spring of 1934, Carson moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music. Shortly after her arrival she lost most of the money her parents had given her, and to support herself worked at various jobs and attended night classes in creative writing at Columbia and New York University. She focused on short stories at first, portraying adolescent anguish and unrequited love. Carson returned to Columbus in mid 1935 where she met Reeves McCullers, a soldier, whom she married in 1937. They were divorced in 1941 but remarried in 1945. Shortly after she left him in 1953 he committed suicide. Carson experienced success early with the publication of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in 1940 when she was only twenty-three. Its themes foreshadowed nearly everything she wrote thereafter, namely spiritual isolation as the human condition in modern times, and her identification with, and compassion for, the underdogs and outcasts of society. Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941) was greeted by mixed reviews and was generally considered not as successful as her first novel. Carson suffered the first of several strokes in 1941, believed to be the result of a misdiagnosed case of rheumatic fever which had damaged her heart when she was fifteen. After receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1942 and a $1000 grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1943, McCullers was able to work on her next novel, The Member of the Wedding (1946), which again won high critical acclaim. She adapted the novel for the stage where it became a Broadway hit in 1950, running fourteen and a half months and winning the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Donaldson Award. McCullers was awarded a Gold Medal by the Theatre Club, Inc. as the best playwright of the year. In 1952 the play was turned into a succcessful motion picture. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, often considered her finest work, was published as a novella in 1951. It was adapted by Edward Albee for the Broadway stage in the 1963-1964 season but had only limited success. Carson's next project, The Square Root of Wonderful, was her first attempt to write a play from its inception. The play went through numerous revisions and finally opened on Broadway on October 30, 1957, but received poor reviews and closed after forty-five performances. The play was published in 1958. Because of her despondency over her paralyzing strokes and the play's failure, McCullers began seeing psychiatrist Dr. Mary Mercer who had a very positive effect on her, inspiring her to continue writing, and who became a lifelong friend. Clock without Hands, her final novel, appeared in 1961. Though it made the best-seller lists for five months, it received mixed reviews in the United States and is the only one of her novels not adapted for the screen. In addition to her five novels and two plays, McCullers wrote twenty short stories, over two dozen articles and essays, and some poetry and verse. She received numerous awards for her work throughout the years including the Prize of the Younger Generation in 1965, and the Henry Bellamann Award in 1966 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to literature. On August 15, 1967 she suffered a stroke and remained in a coma until her death on September 29.
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn George Davis papers, 1906-1957 (bulk, 1935-1950). Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
referencedIn Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964. Autograph letter signed : Renishaw Hall [near Sheffield], to Jane Clark, "Monday" [1950-1951]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Great authors poster collection. The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn Watkins Loomis, Inc. Watkins Loomis Records, 1883-1987. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Vol. XXXI. (ff.) Marr-McCullers.James Stern, writer: Carson McCullers, writer: Letters to James Stern from Carson McCullers: circa 1940-1942.James Stern, writer: Robert McAlmon, writer: Letters to James Stern from Robert McAlmon: 1932-1950.James St... British Library
creatorOf Dillon, Millicent. Papers, 1905-1990 (bulk 1935-1986). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn National Theatre (New York, N.Y.). Playbills. Indiana University
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. [Letter, 1942] Jan. 16 [to] Newton, my beloved friend / Carson. Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Ryan, Thomas C., d. 1986. The heart is a lonely hunter : screenplay / by Thomas C. Ryan ; based on the novel by Carson McCullers.. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Kazin, Alfred, 1915-1998. Alfred Kazin collection of papers, 1933-1990 bulk (1933-1978). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Watkins Loomis Records, 1883-2007 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Tennessee Williams papers, 1920-1983 Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Tucker, Mary Sames. Mary Sames Tucker papers, 1936-1967. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Carson McCullers Collection, 1924-1976. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Alfred Chester Papers TXRC95-A2., 1950-1966 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Cabell, James Branch, 1879-1958. Correspondence of various contributors to the editors of this Washington and Lee University Literary magazine [manuscript] 1950-60. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Muriel Rukeyser collection of papers, 1920-1976, 1931-1976 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
creatorOf Flanagan, William, 1923-1969. Ballad of the sad cafe / William Flanagan. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Coppola, Francis Ford, 1939-. Reflections in a golden eye : screenplay, 1967 / by Francis Ford Coppola ; based on the novel by Carson McCullers. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Peacock, Edwin Davis, 1910-1989. Edwin Peacock papers, 1915-1997 and undated. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Ryan, Thomas C. The heart is a lonely hunter, 1968 Aug. 2. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Mercer, Mary E.,. Mary E. Mercer Collection of Carson McCullers-Mary Tucker Correspondence, 1959-1976. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Arvin, Newton, 1900-1963. Newton Arvin correspondence, 1920-1963. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Lott, Lisa K. The female quest : journeys toward re-naming identity and re-claiming wholeness of self in novels by Carson McCullers, Harper Lee, Joan Didion, and Margaret Atwood / by Lisa K. Lott. University of Houston, Clear Lake, Alfred R. Neumann Library
referencedIn Decision magazine papers, 1940-1942 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Tennessee Williams Collection TXRC99-A14., 1880-1993, (bulk 1930s-1970s) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Marjorie Kellogg papers, 1895-2005, (bulk 1922-2005) University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
referencedIn Miscellaneous screen, stage, and radio scripts, ca. 1859-2007. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Howard, Elizabeth Jane. Papers of Elizabeth Jane Howard, 1933-2009. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Gilman, Rebecca Claire. The heart is a lonely hunter / adapted for the stage by Rebecca Gilman ; [based on the novel] by Carson McCullers, 2009. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph). The Member of the Wedding / by Carson McCullers ; directed by Michael MacKenzie, 1991 - reviews and articles. University of Guelph
referencedIn Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books, 1937-1997. Houghton Library.
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, ca. 1933-1997. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Esquire, Inc. Records, 1933-1977 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Addiss, Stephen, 1935-. A tree a rock a cloud : chamber opera in one act / by Stephen Addiss ; from a short story by Carson McCullers. The Juilliard School, Lila Acheson Wallace Library
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1959-1960. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn American Author Portraits [manuscript], 1774-1902. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray Papers, 1940-1984, (bulk 1944-1975) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Tennessee Williams papers, 1932-1983. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Zeigler, John. John Zeigler papers, 1927-2011 bulk 1942-1946. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Sims, Marian, 1899-1961. Marian Sims papers 1924-1961 [microform]. Shorter University, Livingston Library, Rome Livingston Library
referencedIn Morton, James (Mrs.). Mrs. James Morton Newspaper Clippings Collection, 1907-1972. Atlanta History Center, Kenan Research Center / Cherokee Garden Library
referencedIn Tennesse Williams Papers, 1920-1983 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Muriel Rukeyser Papers, 1844-1986, (bulk 1930-1979) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Richard Gaither Walser Papers (#4168), 1918-1988 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Carson McCullers Collection TXRC98-A16., 1924-1976 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Flanner, Janet, 1892-1978. Papers of Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray, 1940-1984 (bulk 1944-1975). Library of Congress
referencedIn Dame Edith Sitwell Collection TXRC06-A5., 1904-1964, (bulk dates 1918-1960) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Burack, A. S. (Abraham Saul), 1908-. Abraham Burack collection, 1922-1997. Boston University. School of Medicine
referencedIn Breuer, Bessie, b. 1893. Bessie Breuer papers, 1926-1972. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
referencedIn Carr, Virginia Spencer. Virginia Spencer Carr papers, 1867-2009. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Books, 1935-1965 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Alfred Kazin collection of papers, 1933-1990, 1933-1978 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn Dame Edith Sitwell collection of papers, 1926-1965 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
creatorOf Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph). The Member of the Wedding / by Carson McCullers ; directed by Michael Mackenzie, set and lighting design by Graeme Thomson,1990 - technical drawings. University of Guelph
creatorOf Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph). The Member of the Wedding / by Carson McCullers ; directed by Michael MacKenzie, 1991 - house program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Kellogg, Marjorie. Marjorie Kellogg papers, 1895-2005. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, ca. 1933-1997. Houghton Library.
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Carson McCullers collection, 1941-1961. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Souvenir programs for theatrical productions, 1906-2005. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Carter, Thomas H. (Thomas Henry), 1931-1963. Correspondence, 1950-1962. Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
referencedIn Tennessee Williams Art Collection TXRC99-A14., ca. 1928-1980, bulk 1930s-1970s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Millicent Dillon Papers TXRC92-A25., 1905-1990 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series I., General Correspondence, 1922-1977 (bulk 1946-1966). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Montgomery Clift papers, 1933-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Papers, 1948-1971. Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
referencedIn Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999. Letters : to Oliver Evans, 1963-72. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Linscott, Robert Newton, 1886-. Papers, 1931-1963. Washington University in St. Louis, .
creatorOf Chester, Alfred, 1928-1971. Papers, 1950-1966. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. Muriel Rukeyser papers, 1844-1986 (bulk 1930-1979). Library of Congress
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Carson McCullers papers, 1941-1995. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999. Letters to Oliver Evans [manuscript], 1963-1972. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Houghton Mifflin Company. Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992. Kay Boyle and Joseph Franckenstein correspondence, 1940-1963. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
creatorOf Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983. Tennessee Williams Collection, 1880-1993 (bulk 1930s-1970s). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967. Wunderkind, signed typescript, [196-?]. University of Toledo, William S. Carlson Library
referencedIn Crosland, Margaret, 1920-. Margaret Crosland correspondence, 1955-1970. The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre Correspondence TXRC99-A21., 1955-1959, nd Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Weatherly, Max, 1921-. Max Weatherly papers, 1930-2003 (bulk 1963-1989). Kent State University
creatorOf Carson McCullers Papers, 1941-1995 and undated, (bulk 1945-1970) David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Arden, John. Correspondence of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, 1955-1959. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964. Dame Edith Sitwell Collection, 1904-1964 (bulk 1918-1960). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Addiss, Stephen, 1935- person
associatedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Ann Watkins, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Ann Watkins, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Arvin, Newton, 1900-1963 person
associatedWith Bay, André. person
associatedWith Bay, André person
associatedWith Bigelow, Paul, d. 1961. person
associatedWith Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999. person
associatedWith Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992. person
correspondedWith Breuer, Bessie, b. 1893. person
correspondedWith Burack, A. S. (Abraham Saul), 1908- person
associatedWith Carr, Virginia Spencer. person
associatedWith Carter, Thomas H. (Thomas Henry), 1931-1963. person
associatedWith Chester, Alfred, 1928-1971 person
associatedWith Cleckley, Hervey M. (Hervey Milton), 1903- person
associatedWith Clift, Montgomery person
associatedWith Coppola, Francis Ford, 1939- person
associatedWith Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986 person
associatedWith Crosland, Margaret, 1920- person
associatedWith Davis, George, 1906-1957. person
associatedWith Diamond, David, 1915- person
associatedWith Dillon, Millicent 1925- person
associatedWith English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Esquire, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Evans, Oliver Wendell, 1915- person
associatedWith Fitelson and Mayers corporateBody
associatedWith Fitelson and Mayers. corporateBody
associatedWith Flanagan, William, 1923-1969. person
associatedWith Flanner, Janet, 1892-1978. person
associatedWith Foley, Donald L. person
associatedWith Foley, Katharine person
associatedWith Gilman, Rebecca Claire. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin and Company corporateBody
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Howard, Elizabeth Jane. person
associatedWith Isenberg, Sidney. person
associatedWith Kazin, Alfred, 1915-1998. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Marjorie. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Marjorie. person
associatedWith Lantz, Robert person
associatedWith Lantz, Robert. person
associatedWith Lieber, Maxim. person
associatedWith Liebling-Wood corporateBody
associatedWith Liebling-Wood. corporateBody
associatedWith Liever, Maxim person
correspondedWith Linscott, Robert Newton, 1886- person
associatedWith Lott, Lisa K. person
associatedWith Massee, Jordan. person
spouseOf McCullers, Reeves, 1913-1953 person
associatedWith Mercer, Mary person
associatedWith Mercer, Mary. person
associatedWith Mercer, Mary E., person
associatedWith Morton, James (Mrs.) person
associatedWith Murray, Natalia Danesi. Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray papers. 1940-1984 person
associatedWith National Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Peacock, Edwin Davis, 1910-1989. person
associatedWith Pearn, Pollinger, & Higham Ltd. corporateBody
correspondedWith Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. person
associatedWith Ryan, Thomas C. person
associatedWith Schwarzenbach, Annemarie, 1908-1942 person
associatedWith Simmons, Dawn Langley person
associatedWith Simmons, Dawn Langley. person
associatedWith Sims, Marian, 1899-1961. person
associatedWith Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964 person
associatedWith Smith, Margarita G. person
associatedWith Smith, Marguerite Waters, 1890-1955. person
associatedWith Steegmuller, Francis, 1906- person
associatedWith Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Tarragon Theatre Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas, Dylan, 1914-1953 person
associatedWith Tucker, Mary Sames. person
associatedWith Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972 person
associatedWith Walser, Richard Gaither, 1908- person
associatedWith Watkins Loomis, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Watkins Loomis, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Weatherly, Max, 1921- person
associatedWith Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983 person
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972 person
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
associatedWith Zeigler, John. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Columbus GA US
Nyack (N.Y.) US
Subject
Authors--Biography
Women and literature--Southern states
Women authors--Relations with men
American literature--20th century
American drama
Poets, English
Authors, American
Women authors, American
Women and literature
Women authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
Authors, American--Correspondence
Occupation
Authors
Function

Person

Birth 1917-02-19

Death 1967-09-29

Americans

English

Information

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