19, 1917 – September 29, 1967) was an Americanwriter. She wrote novels, short stories, and two
plays, as well as essays and some poetry. Her first novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter explores the spiritual isolation of misfits
and outcasts of the South. Her other novels have similar
themes and are all set in the South.
She was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgiain 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
watchmaker and jeweler of French Huguenot extraction. From the age of ten she took piano lessons, and at the age of
15 she received a typewriter from her father.
In September 1934 at age 17 she left home on a steamship from Savannah, Georgia, planning to study piano at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, 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 with Sylvia Chatfield
Bates at Washington Square College of New
York University. She decided to become a
writer and published in 1936 an autobiographical piece, Wunderkind, a
piece her course teacher Miss Bates much admired, in Story magazine. It depicted a musical prodigy's failure and adolescent insecurity and
also appears in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe collection.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was filmed in 1968 with Alan Arkin in the lead role. Reflections in a Golden Eye was
directed by John Huston (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Some of the film was shot in New York
City and on Long
Island, where Huston was permitted to use an abandoned
Army installation. Many of the interiors and some of the exteriors were done in
first met Carson McCullers during the war when I was visiting Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith in upstate New York," said Huston in An Open Book (1980). "Carson lived nearby, and one day when Buzz and I were out
for a walk she hailed us from her doorway. She was then in her early twenties,
and had already suffered the first of a series of strokes. I remember her as a
fragile thing with great shining eyes, and a tremor in her hand as she placed
it in mine. It wasn't palsy, rather a quiver of animal timidity. But there was
nothing timid or frail about the manner in which Carson McCullers faced life. And as her afflictions multiplied,
she only grew stronger."
McCullers and perhaps Mr. Faulkner are the only writers since the death of D. H.
Lawrence with an original poetic sensibility. I prefer
Mrs McCullers to Mr. Faulkner because she writes more clearly; I prefer her to
D. H. Lawrence because she has no message." – Graham Greene
work is] one of the few satisfying achievements of our second-rate
culture." – Gore Vidal
yes, but a minor author. And broken by illness at such a young age." – Arthur Miller
major theme; the huge importance and nearly insoluble problems of human
love." – Tennessee