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Elizabeth Hardwick (Elizabeth Bruce Hardwick) Biography

(1916– ), (Elizabeth Bruce Hardwick), Partisan Review, Harpers, New Yorker, The Ghostly Lover, The Simple Truth

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American novelist and critic, born in Lexington, Kentucky, educated at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and at Columbia University. She contributed reviews and stories from the early 1940s onwards to Partisan Review, Harpers, and the New Yorker. Her first novel, The Ghostly Lover (1945), was followed by The Simple Truth (1955), concerning the murder trial of a college student. Sleepless Nights (1979) has a much less conventional narrative structure, a minor masterpiece of fictionalized autobiography whose narrator (‘Elizabeth’) moves in memory between Kentucky, New York, and Europe. Reflections range around time, death, disease, ageing, and ‘the torment of personal relations’; characters encountered include Hardwick's one-time husband Robert Lowell and Billie Holiday. She has commanded widespread respect as a critic over several decades, being a founder of the New York Review of Books in February 1963, and influential in her appreciation of Mary McCarthy and Susan Sontag. Hardwick's stimulating essays are collected in A View of My Own (1962), dealing with literary and societal topics; Seduction and Betrayal (1974), which discusses women writers from the Brontës to Zelda Fitzgerald; and Bartleby in Manhattan and Other Essays (1983).

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