Carson McCullers Biography

Carson McCullers Biography

Carson McCullers, born Lula Carson Smith, could not hold a job. “I was always fired,” she once told an interviewer. “My record is perfect on that. I never quit a job in my life.” But that did not hurt her writing career at all. McCullers burst onto the literary scene in 1940 with her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. She went on to write The Ballad of the Sad Café and The Member of the Wedding, among other well-received works. Her writing is marked by tragedy and Southern gothic themes along the lines of Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor.

Facts and Trivia

  • McCullers began her creative life as a piano protégé, and enrolled at Juilliard at the age of seventeen. During her time there, she was ill and never went to class.
  • The Member of the Wedding is McCullers’s most famous work. It was adapted for the stage in 1950 and into a 1952 film starring Julie Harris.
  • McCullers often explored homosexual themes in her novels. In fact, her own marriage ended when she took a female lover and her husband took a male lover.
  • In 1953, her husband, who she divorced and remarried, tried to get her to commit suicide with him. She fled, and he killed himself in their Paris hotel room.
  • McCullers’s health was always poor, and she died of a stroke at the age of fifty.
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