Jean Stafford

For the Australian country music artist, see Jean Stafford (musician).
Jean Stafford

Robert Lowell, Jean Stafford, and Peter Taylor in 1941. Photo by Robie Macauley.
Born (1915-07-01)July 1, 1915
California, United States
Died March 26, 1979(1979-03-26) (aged 63)
New York, United States
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Alma mater University of Colorado Boulder
Genre Literary fiction
Notable works The Mountain Lion

Jean Stafford (July 1, 1915 – 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.[1][2]

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.[3]

Personal life

Stafford's personal life was often marked by unhappiness. She was married three times. 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,[4] 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).



External links

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