McCullers, Carson

WRITER (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
BORN 19 Feb 1917, Columbus, Georgia - DIED 29 Sep 1967, Nyack, New York: Hospital
REAL NAME Smith, Lula Carson
GRAVE LOCATION Nyack, New York: Oak Hill Cemetery, 140 North Highland Avenue (High Lawn Section (on the top of a hill next to her mother))

Lula Carson Smith grew up in Georgia. When she was seventeen she went to New York to study at the Juilliard School of Music. She never entred that school because the money that was supposed to support her was lost. She worked during the day and took creative writing lessons at Columbia University, where Dorothy Scarborough was her teacher. In 1936 she published the autobiographical "Wunderkind".

In 1937 she married the former soldier Reeves McCullers. They lived in Charlotte, South Carolina, where he had work. In South Carolina she wrote her first novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" (1940). In 1940 she met the Swiss journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach and she fell in love with her. Annemarie loved women and they shared one kiss, but Annemarie didn't want an affair with Carson and tried to avoid her. They remained friends and corresponded with each other for many years.

She left Reeves McCullers and she went to New York to live with George Davis, who was the editor of "Harper's Bazaar" and shared a house with W.H. Auden. She was a member of the February House art commune and frequently met Benjamin Britten and Paul en Jane Bowles. Early in 1941 she and Reeves were together again but they both fell in love with the composer David Diamond. Later that year they divorced. In 1943 her story "The Ballad of the Sad Café" was published in "Harper's Bazaar".

In 1944 her father died and her mother moved to Nyack near New York City where she lived with Carson and her sister. In 1945 she and McCullers married again. In 1946 her novel "The Member of the Wedding" was published. The version she wrote for the theatre ws performed 501 times on Broadway.

By 1948 she had suffered several strokes and her left side was paralyzed. She tried to commit suicide during the same year. During the early 1950s she spent much time in Paris and in 1953 Reeves wanted them to commit suicide together near Paris. After she ran away he killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills. Her mother died in 1955. She wrote about her traumatic experiences in the play "The Square Root of Wonderful" (1957). It was a failure and closed after 45 performances. By that time she was unable to walk.

She continued to live in the house in Nyack. Her last novel was "Clock Without Hands" (1961). She died in Nyack Hospital after she suffered another stroke in 1967. She was buried next to her mother at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Nyack.

Images

The graves of Carson McCullers and her mother at Oak Hill Cemetery, Nyack.
Picture by Androom (13 Apr 2010)

 

The house where Carson McCullers lived at 131 Broadway, Nyack.
Picture by Androom (13 Apr 2010)

 

Sources
Carson McCullers (1917-1967) | New Georgia Encyclopedia


McDonnell, Alexander

Published: 2 Jan 2011
Last update: 7 Apr 2018