1917 - 1967

"The mind is like a richly woven tapestry in which the colors are distilled from the experiences of the senses, and the design drawn from the convolutions of the intellect."

- Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers is often listed beside Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams as an innovator in Southern Gothic fiction.  Born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus Georgia, she was 17 when she left to study piano at Julliard, but arriving in New York she chose a writing career instead.  While still in her early 20s, the frail Carson had the first in a series of strokes she suffered throughout her life; soon after she married Reeves McCullers Jr.  At 23, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was published to great commercial and critical acclaim.  In 1941 she released Reflections in a Golden Eye and two years later The Ballad of the Sad Café, both subsequent novels further exploring and deepening her recurring themes of isolation and loneliness.  She was a literary sensation.  In the span of these few years she divorced and remarried McCullers – both were heavy drinking bisexuals, who freely declared their same sex attractions.  In 1946 she released The Member of the Wedding which won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for its 1950 adaptation.  In 1952 it was the first of her novels to be adapted for the screen, garnering an Academy Award nomination.  The next decade was a brutal one for her defined by declining health, depression, suicide attempts, a failed play, and a final novel (Clock Without Hands, 1961) which was a disappointment.  In 1964 things had begun to turn around for her.  ‘The Ballad of the Sad Café’ was a hit on Broadway and she wrote a children’s book as well.  But in August 1967 McCullers suffered her final stroke, remaining comatose 46 days before dying at the age of 50.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States France

Era/Epoch Cold War (1945-1991) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution




Commemorations & Honors

New York Drama Critics Circle Award for The Member of the Wedding (1950)

Carson McCullers Nyack House on the National Register of Historic Places (2006)

Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts Opened in Columbus Georgia Named After Getrude Rainey and Carson McCullers (2017)

Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell