Lula Carson Smith was the birth name of Carson McCullers, the author of the classic work of literature “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” The author is noted for a number of novels, plays, and short tales that are considered to be of great literary quality. Lula aspired to be a musician since she was a child and began taking piano lessons at the age of ten. She also intended to attend New York City’s famed Juilliard School of Music. A attack of rheumatic illness when she was a teenager, however, led her to reconsider her professional choices. Her father got her a typewriter, and she began composing stories to pass the time while she was recovering. By the time she was in her late teens, she had taken creative writing classes and had begun writing seriously. Unfortunately, she has been afflicted with health issues since she was a child. Long periods of recuperation, on the other hand, proved to be fertile ground for her writing; she wrote her first novel, ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,’ while suffering from a respiratory infection. The novel, about a deaf man’s life, became a literary sensation and a top seller. Later, the book was made into a film of the same name.
Childhood and Adolescence
She was the daughter of a watchmaker and jeweler Lamar Smith and his wife Vera Marguerite Waters.
She wanted to be a musician since she was a little girl, and her parents set up piano lessons for her when she was 10 years old. Columbus High School was her alma mater.
In 1934, she came to New York City with the intention of studying piano at the Julliard School of Music. She returned home, though, and became ill with rheumatic fever. Her sickness prevented her from pursuing a career as a professional musician, forcing her to examine other options.
She took night seminars at Columbia University, where she studied creative writing with Texas writer Dorothy Scarborough.
The career of Carson McCullers
By her late teens, she had taken up writing seriously. Her first published work, ‘Wunderkind,’ was an autobiographical story about a musical prodigy’s traumatic life circumstances. The story was initially published in the December 1936 issue of the magazine Story.’
She split her time between Columbus and New York for two years, from 1935 to 1937, to work on her studies and writing. She also supported herself by working a variety of odd jobs.
Her first novel, ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,’ was released in 1940. The plot is centered around John Singer, a deaf guy, and the characters he meets in a mill town. The novel received positive reviews from critics and was a tremendous financial success.
The novel ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’ was published the following year. The novel first appeared in serial form in the ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ in the October-November 1940 issues. The book tackled topics like homosexuality, sadism, and fetishism.
Her next novel, ‘The Member of the Wedding,’ took her five years to complete and was ultimately published in 1946. The premise centered around Frankie Addams, a 12-year-old tomboy who felt cut off from the rest of the world. The story delves into the minds of the three main characters.
In 1950, the Broadway adaptation of the novel “The Member of the Wedding” premiered. The play was a big success, with 501 performances. This adaption was both critical and commercially successful.
In 1951, she published ‘The Ballad of the Sad Caf,’ a collection of short stories that became one of her most famous works. It includes a novella with the same title about Amelia Evans, a strong-willed lady. This novel is about love, isolation, loneliness, and gender norms.
Her health was always poor, and it deteriorated steadily in her final years, hurting the quality of her writing output as well. ‘The Square Root of Wonderful,’ her second play, did not fare well on Broadway, closing after only 45 performances in 1957. Her final work, ‘Clock Without Hands,’ published in 1961, was similarly a flop.
Major Projects of Carson McCullers
Her debut work, ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,’ is a literary sensation centered on the narrative of a deaf man. She portrayed the voice of the rejected, forgotten, and oppressed in one of her works. The novel was named one of the top 100 English-language novels of the twentieth century.
Achievements & Awards
Her play ‘The Member of the Wedding’ was named the greatest American play of the season by the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1950. It also took home the Donaldson Award for best play and best debut play by a playwright.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1937, she married Reeves McCullers, an ambitious writer. In 1940, the couple split up and divorced in 1941. In 1945, Carson and Reeves remarried.
When she was depressed, she tried suicide. Years later, her husband persuaded her to join him in attempting suicide.
She, on the other hand, left while Reeves committed suicide.
Throughout her life, she struggled with health issues. By the age of 31, she was partially paralyzed. In 1967, she died of a brain hemorrhage.
Estimated Net Worth
Carson is one of the wealthiest novelists and one of the most well-known novelists. Carson McCullers net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.