Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jean Stafford (July 1, 1915 â€" March 26, 1979) was an American short story writer and novelist, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford in 1970.

Early life

She was born in California, to Mary Ethel (McKillop) and John Richard Stafford, a Western pulp writer. As a youth Stafford attended the University of Colorado Boulder and, with friend James Robert Hightower, won a one-year fellowship to study philology at the University of Heidelberg from 1936 to 1937.


Her first novel, Boston Adventure was a best-seller, earning her national acclaim. She wrote two more novels in her career, but her greatest medium was the short story: her works were published in The New Yorker and various literary magazines. For the academic year 1964-1965, she was a Fellow on the faculty at the Center for Advanced Studies of Wesleyan University.

Personal life

Stafford's personal life was often marked by unhappiness. She was married thrice. Her first marriage, to the brilliant but mentally unstable poet Robert Lowell, left her with lingering emotional and physical scars. She was seriously injured in an automobile accident with Lowell at the wheel, a trauma she described in one of her best-known stories, "The Interior Castle," and the disfigurement she suffered as a result was a turning point in her life. A second marriage to Life magazine staff writer Oliver Jensen also ended in divorce. Stafford enjoyed a brief period of domestic happiness with her third husband, A. J. Liebling, a prominent writer for The New Yorker. After his death, she stopped writing fiction.


For many years Stafford suffered from alcoholism, depression, and pulmonary disease. By age sixty-three she had almost stopped eating and died of cardiac arrest in White Plains, New York, in 1979. She was buried in Green River Cemetery, East Hampton, New York.


Several biographies of Jean Stafford were written following her death: David Roberts' Jean Stafford, a Biography (1988), Charlotte Margolis Goodman's Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart (1990), and Ann Hulbert's The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford (1992). Among these, Goodman's deals most successfully with Stafford as a proto-feminist writer.


  • Boston Adventure, 1944 (Novel)
  • The Interior Castle, 1947 (Short story)
  • The Mountain Lion, 1947 (Novel)
  • The Catherine Wheel, 1952 (Novel)
  • Children Are Bored on Sunday, 1953 (Short stories)
  • A Book of Stories, 1957 (contributes five stories)
  • Elephi: The Cat with the High I.Q., 1962 (Children's)
  • The Lion and the Carpenter and Other Tales from the Arabian Tales Retold, 1962 (Children's)
  • Bad Characters, 1964 (Short stories)
  • A Mother in History, 1966
  • Collected Stories, 1969


External links

  • Works by or about Jean Stafford in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Jean Stafford at Internet Accuracy Project
  • Jean Stafford at Find a Grave
  • An Influx of Poets, a novel excerpt, Narrative Magazine, (Spring 2004).

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