Friday, February 5, 2010

El Corazon es un Cazador Solitario By Carson McCullers

1917: Lula Carson Smith is born on February 19 at 423 Thirteenth Street in Columbus, Georgia, the first child of Lamar and Marguerite Waters Smith.
1926: Lula Carson begins piano lessons at age ten.

1930: Upon her return from a visit to her aunt and uncle, she drops the use of Lula from her double name. She decides to become a concert pianist and begins piano lessons with Mrs. Albert S. J. Tucker.

1932: As a senior in high school, she suffers from rheumatic fever, which is thought later to have contributed to her crippling strokes in life. She announces to her friend Helen Jackson that she has decided to become a writer instead of a concert pianist.

1933: Carson graduates from Columbus High School and begins to read the works of Dostoevski, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and O'Neill. She has begun writing plays (in which she casts her brother and sister), the first of which is called The Faucet. She writes her first story called "Sucker," which she tries unsuccessfully to sell.

1934: Carson leaves Savannah, Georgia at age seventeen and travels to New York City, where she enrolls in creative writing courses at Columbia University.

1935: Carson meets James Reeves McCullers, Jr. through her friend Edwin Peacock.

1936: Her first published story, "Wunderkind," appears in Story magazine. She develops the idea for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter while recuperating from a serious illness.

1937: On September 20, Carson (age twenty) and Reeves (age twenty-four) are married in the home of mutual friends. They return to Charlotte, North Carolina and move into Reeves's apartment. Carson begins work on her first novel.

1939: Carson finishes her first novel in April and entitles it The Mute. She writes a second novel entitled Reflections in a Golden Eye. She begins conceiving the plot for The Member of the Wedding.

1940: On June 4, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (formerly called The Mute) is published by Houghton Mifflin. On August 14, she attends the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Middlebury, Vermont and meets Louis Untermeyer and Eudora Welty. Reflections in a Golden Eye is published in two parts in October and November in Harper's Bazaar for five hundred dollars. Carson is ill for most of the winter.

1941: In February, Carson is stricken with impaired vision, stabbing head pains, and partial paralysis. She visits the Yaddo Artists' Colony in Saratoga Springs and meets Katherine Anne Porter and Newton Arvin. At Yaddo, she writes The Ballad of the Sad Café. She initiates divorce proceedings against Reeves. Her first published poem, "The Twisted Trinity," appears in Decision. She suffers her second major illness of the year with pleurisy, strep throat, and double pneumonia.

1942: On March 24, Carson is awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Though she wants to take her prize money and write in Mexico, her poor health prevents her.

1944: Carson suffers a severe nervous attack in addition to influenza and pleurisy. Her father dies in August of a heart attack.

1945: On March 19, Carson and Reeves remarry in New City, New York.

1946: Houghton Mifflin publishes The Member of the Wedding on March 19. She receives her second Guggenheim Fellowship on April 15.

1947: Carson suffers a serious stroke in August and another stroke in November which paralyzes her left side.

1948: In March, Carson attempts suicide and is hospitalized in Manhattan. In the summer and the fall, she adapts and revises The Member of the Wedding into a play while in Nantucket with Tennessee Williams.

1950: On January 5, The Member of the Wedding opens at the Empire Theatre on Broadway. It wins the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the best play of the season.

1951: Houghton Mifflin publishes The Ballad of the Sad Café.

1953: Carson and Reeves experience severe marital problems. Reeves attempts suicide and tries to convince Carson into committing a double suicide. She flees to France in fear of her life. On November 19, Reeves kills himself in a Paris hotel.

1955: Carson travels with Tennessee Williams to Key West in April to work on three manuscripts: the dramatization of The Ballad of the Sad Café, The Square Root of Wonderful, and Clock Without Hands. On June 10, her mother dies unexpectedly and this loss utterly devestates Carson. She works frenetically on The Square Root of Wonderful to cope with her mother's death.

1957: The Square Root of Wonderful opens on October 30 on Broadway but closes prematurely after forty-five performances. Carson suffers acute depression over the premature closing of the play.

1959: Carson becomes unable to work on her manuscripts like Clock Without Hands and the musical adaptation of The Ballad of the Sad Café so she begins writing children's verse.

1961: Clock Without Hands is published by Houghton Mifflin on September 18.

1962: By 1962, Carson spends most of her time in a wheelchair. She does little writing in 1962 because of her health. She undergoes an operation to remove a cancerous right breast on June 6. Surgery is also performed on every major joint of her paralyzed left hand.

1964: In the spring, Carson breaks her right hip and shatters her left elbow. Her collection of children's verses, Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig is published by Houghton Mifflin on November 1. She signs her last will and testament on November 8.

1966: Thomas Ryan completes his screen script of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and reads it to Carson. She works with Mary Rodgers on adapting The Member of the Wedding into a musical.

1967: On April 30, Carson is named winner of the 1966 Henry Bellamann Award, a one-thousand-dollar grant recognizing her "oustanding contribution to literature." On August 15, she suffers her final stroke, a massive brain hemorrhage, and lies comatose for forty-seven days. Carson McCullers dies on September 29 and is buried on October 3 in Oak Hill Cemetary, on the bank of the Hudson River.

1971: Margarita G. Smith, her sister, edits The Mortgaged Heart, the first posthumous collection of her works.

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