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Jean Stafford

Jean Stafford was the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mountain Lion, Boston Adventure, The Catherine Wheel, A Mother in History, and The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford fame.


Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Jean Wilson Stafford

Date and place of birth: July 1, 1915, at 831 Lark Ellen Avenue, Covina*, California, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: March 26, 1979, Burke Rehabilitation Center, 785 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, New York, U.S.A. (Cardiac arrest)

Marriage #1
Spouse: Robert Lowell (m. April 2, 1940 - June 14, 1948) (divorced)
Wedding took place at St. Marks Church, Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Marriage #2
Spouse: Oliver Jensen (m. January 28, 1950 - February 20, 1953) (divorced)
Wedding took place at Christ Church Methodist, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Marriage #3
Spouse: A.J. Liebling (m. April 3, 1959 - December 28, 1963) (his death)
Wedding took place at New York City Hall, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Family/Relatives
Siblings: Dick Stafford (b. 1911 - d. September 18, 1944, France, in an auto accident) (older brother)

Mary Lee Stafford (later Mary Lee Frichtel), and Marjorie Stafford (later Marjorie Pinkham) (older sisters)

Parents
Father: John Richard Stafford (a journalist/writer of western fiction under the pseudonyms Jack Wonder, O.B. Miles and Ben Delight) (b. 1874, Missouri - d. January 1966)
Mother: Mary Ethel (McKillop) Stafford (b. 1876 - d. 1947 in Oregon)

Burial site: Green River Cemetery, Accabonac Road, East Hampton, New York, U.S.A.


Error corrections or clarifications

* Some editions of the Grolier Encyclopedia, erroneously report Stafford was born in "Corina" and also incorrectly claim she died "March 17, 1979." In point of fact, she was born in Covina, California, and died March 26th, 1979.


Biography - Selected writing credits

Jean Stafford was born in Covina, California, in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles. Though she was the youngest of four children in the Stafford household, her writing frequently focused on lonely, alienated, isolated characters.

Several fateful incidents early in life left her scarred both physically and emotionally. In college Stafford witnessed the bloody suicide of a roommate. Jean was severely injured and disfigured in an auto accident in December 1938. Growing up, Jean had always been closest to her older brother Dick, and she was devastated when he was killed in a car crash in France during World War II. Just as tragic losses had been a part of her early life, tragedy was a recurrent theme in her writings.

The short time she had with her third husband, A.J. Liebling, is generally considered to be the happiest period of Stafford's adult life.

While Jean Stafford is best known as the writer of The Mountain Lion, Boston Adventure, The Catherine Wheel, A Mother in History, and The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford, she also produced other significant works such as Bad Characters, Children Are Bored on Sunday, An Influx of Poets, The Lion and the Carpenter, Other Tales From the Arabian Nights Retold, In the Zoo, A Country Love Story and Elphi, the Cat with the High IQ.

Her short stories appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Harper's Bazaar, and other literary magazines. She won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1970, for her Collected Short Stories (1969).

In addition to her novels and short stories, Stafford was an instructor at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri (1937-38), worked for the Southern Review (1940-41), and was adjunct professor at Columbia University, New York City, New York (1967-69).

Jean's personal life was marked by bouts of alcoholism, depression, dysfunction, breakdowns and three troubled marriages. Her health, both physical and emotional, remained frail throughout her life. November of 1976, she suffered a debilitating stroke, and died just three years later at the age of 63.


Sources

The most in-depth of more than two dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile, was the 1988 biography, Jean Stafford: The Life of a Writer, by David Roberts, and the 1992 biography, The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford, by Ann Hulbert.


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