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Jean Stafford Biography

(1915–79), Boston Adventure, The Mountain Lion, The Catherine Wheel, Children Are Bored on Sunday

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Souvenirs to St Joan of the Stockyards (Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe)

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Covina, California, but grew up in Colorado; she was educated at the University of Colorado and the University of Heidelberg. In 1940 she married the poet Robert Lowell, the first of her three husbands; their marriage and divorce are the source of some of her most incisive short fiction. Her first novel, Boston Adventure (1944), is a long, confessional account of a young woman's search for love among the privileged classes. Her second novel, The Mountain Lion (1947), entirely different in tone and texture, with its rural Colorado setting, colloquial narrative voice, and subtle intertwining of myth and symbolism with realism, received much praise as did her third novel, The Catherine Wheel (1952). Stafford is best remembered as a highly skilled writer of short fiction; her collection Children Are Bored on Sunday (1954) brought her renewed acclaim, and her Collected Short Stories (1969) won the Pulitzer Prize. She produced only one further full-length prose work, A Mother in History (1966), a controversial portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald's mother, which confirmed her reputation as a leading stylist. A biography by David Roberts was published in 1989.

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