Carolyn Gold Heilbrun Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Carolyn Gold Heilbrun proclaims in Reinventing Womanhood, “I had been born a feminist and never wavered from that position.” In a struggle to trace the origin of these feminist leanings, Heilbrun—born both Jewish and female—looks to her childhood and her experience as an outsider. The only child of Archibald and Estelle (Roemer) Gold, Heilbrun grew up in Manhattan and received a private school education. Although she describes her own mother’s life as full of “emptiness and futility,” Heilbrun gained from her mother’s loss. Estelle repeatedly urged her daughter not to make the mistakes she had made and to have her own life and earn her own money, thus anticipating the profound influence that the sentiments of Virginia Woolf would later have on Heilbrun.{$S[A]Gold Heilbrun, Carolyn;Heilbrun, Carolyn Gold}{$S[A]Cross, Amanda;Heilbrun, Carolyn Gold}

When at nineteen Carolyn married James Heilbrun, she kept her marriage a secret to discourage other women from following her lead. Two years later, in 1947, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College. From there she went to Columbia University, where she earned a Master’s of Arts degree in 1951 and a Ph.D. in English in 1959. While earning her doctoral degree Heilbrun raised three children, Emily, Margaret, and Robert.

In 1959 Heilbrun began her long teaching career in English, specializing in modern British literature, the English novel, biography, and women’s studies, as an instructor at Brooklyn College. From there, she went to Columbia University, moving from instructor in 1960 to full professor in 1972. Over the years she was a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Princeton, and Yale Law School, among others. She has been the recipient of countless awards and grants, including a 1966 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1976 Rockefeller Fellowship, and a 1983 NEH Fellowship. In 1984 Heilbrun served as president of the Modern Language Association and was a member of the executive board of Mystery Writers...

(The entire section is 828 words.)