Jean Stafford

Jean Stafford (1915–1979) was born in California but raised in Boulder, Colorado, where her family moved after losing their fortune on the stock exchange. Her college years at the University of Colorado were marked by poverty as well as by the suicide of her friend Lucy McKee, who shot herself in Stafford’s presence. After graduation, Stafford studied at the University of Heidelberg, and on her return met the poet Robert Lowell, whom she married in New York in 1940 but divorced in 1948, later remarrying twice. In 1944 her debut novel, Boston Adventure, became a bestseller, followed in 1947 by The Mountain Lion. By 1948, the year in which Stafford received a Guggenheim fellowship, her acclaimed stories were regularly appearing in the New Yorker. In 1952 Stafford published a third novel, The Catherine Wheel, and in 1970 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her Collected Stories. She suffered a stroke in 1976 and died three years later in White Plains, New York, leaving her entire estate to her cleaning woman.