Carson McCullers was born at Columbus, Georgia, in 1917. She was always a delicate person and as a young adult she began to suffer from strokes, and by the age of thirty-one she was paralysed down her left side. For a while she could only use one finger to type, and for years before her death could not sit at a desk to work. In 1938 she married James Reeves McCullers, a corporal in the US army. The marriage was not a success and they divorced. They did, however, keep in touch and subsequently remarried, separating finally in 1953; he later committed suicide.
She was established as a writer by the time she reached her twenties but it was not until she published The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the age of twenty-three, that she won widespread recognition. Her other works include Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), The Member of the Wedding (1946; winner of the 1950 New York Critics Award, also staged as a play in London), The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), The Square Root of Wonderful (1958), a play, Clock Without Hands (1961), Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig (1964) and The Mortgaged Heart (published posthumously in 1972). She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1942-3 and again in 1946, and received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1945; she was also a Fellow of the Academy. She lived in Nyack, New York, until her death in 1967.
Graham Greene wrote of her: 'Miss McCullers and perhaps Mr Faulkner are the only writers since the death of D. H. Lawrence with an original poetic sensibility. I prefer Miss McCullers to Mr Faulkner because she writes more clearly; I prefer her to D. H. Lawrence because she has no message.'