February 19

Carson McCullers

February 19, 1917 - Columbus

She helped create the literary genre known as “Southern Gothic.” But more than anything else, Carson McCullers wrote with penetrating insight about loneliness and suffering.

Born as Lula Carson Smith in Columbus in 1917, she went to New York for college and married Reeves McCullers, the beginning of a complex and destructive relationship. In 1940, McCullers published her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a critical and commercial success followed by the controversial Reflections in a Golden Eye. Her short story “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” is considered her best work.

With Tennessee Williams’ encouragement, McCullers turned her novel, The Member of the Wedding, into a successful Broadway play. McCullers and her husband divorced and then remarried before he committed suicide in 1953. Her life was marked by physical pain and mental suffering: a series of strokes left her in a wheelchair before her death at age 50.

The lonely writer who wrote so hauntingly of the human desire to connect with others was born on February 19, 1917, Today in Georgia History.