Stafford, Jean

Stafford, Jean

▪ American writer
born July 1, 1915, Covina, Calif., U.S.
died March 26, 1979, White Plains, N.Y.

      American short-story writer and novelist noted for her deft development of fictional characters.

      After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A., 1936; M.A., 1936), Stafford studied at Heidelberg University in Germany (1936–37). When she returned to the United States and settled in Boston, she painstakingly completed a four-year effort, the novel Boston Adventure (1944), which became a best-seller, with sales reaching 400,000 copies. Its publication launched her career and guaranteed her a position of prominence in literary circles. She later wrote two more novels, The Mountain Lion (1947) and The Catherine Wheel (1952), as well as children's books. The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford (1969) won a Pulitzer Prize, and she contributed frequently to such journals as The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Partisan Review, and Harper's Bazaar.

      Stafford's personal life was marked by bouts of alcoholism and illnesses and by three troubled marriages (to writers Robert Lowell (Lowell, Robert, Jr.), Oliver Jensen, and A.J. Liebling).

Additional Reading
David Roberts, Jean Stafford (1988); Charlotte Margolis Goodman, Jean Stafford (1990); and Ann Hulbert, The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford (1992), discuss Stafford's life and work. Criticism and interpretation are presented in Mary Ellen Williams Walsh, Jean Stafford (1985); Maureen Ryan, Innocence and Estrangement in the Fiction of Jean Stafford (1987); and Mary Ann Wilson, Jean Stafford: A Study of the Short Fiction (1996).

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Universalium. 2010.

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