Carson McCullers: Biography

Carson McCullers

19 feb 1917

Carson McCullers, an American fiction writer can be well described as a real fighter. Inspite of her sickness and personal struggles, she succeeded as a famous writer at a very young age. Carson’s initial interest was on music; she started learning piano at the age of 10.

Due to her unhealthy condition, she was unable to continue her piano classes and it was during this time she concentrated on writing. Her interest towards writing grew and this over shadowed her music ambition. Carson moved to New York and started taking creative writing classes at Columbia University and New York University amidst other jobs.

Carson married Reeves McCullers in Sep 1937 and the couple lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. Reeves was an ex-soldier and also an aspiring writer. It was in North Carolina that Carson McCullers wrote her first novel, ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ in the Southern Gothic tradition. The novel brought her great fame.

Although Carson’s professional life picked up, she faced immense trouble in her personal life. Both Carson and her husband were bisexuals and had illegal affairs. The couple divorced in 1940 and re-married in 1945. Life after re-marriage was worse to Carson. She suffered from repeated strokes and partial paralysis moved her to a wheel chair. Carson was unable to tolerate her sickness and even made a suicide attempt in 1948. Somehow she recovered both physically and emotionally from that incident.

Carson McCullers has published over eight novels. ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’, ‘The Member of the Wedding’ and ‘The Ballad of the Sad Cafe’ are some of her best known works. Her novels reflected the lives of lonely people. Two of her novels were made as movies. Her novel turned play ‘The Member of the Wedding’ won the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play and ‘The Ballad of the Sad Cafe’ earned six Tony Award nominations.

A final stroke on Aug 15, 1967 left Carson in coma for 46 days. After a lifelong illness, Carson died of brain haemorrhage on Sep 29, 1967. More than 200 people including celebrities attended her funeral and paid homage.