Lula Carson Smith (Carson McCullers) was born in 1917 in Columbus, Georgia, the daughter of a well-to-do watchmaker and jeweler. She was a precocious child encouraged by an indulgent mother to pursue her talents. She began piano lessons at age five and became an awkward and isolated prodigy. At 17, she entered the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City, but poor health prevented her from going to classes. Instead, she took a series of odd jobs by day and studied writing at Columbia University at night.
At 23, McCullers wrote her first book, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, a novel in the Southern Gothic tradition. It was a bestseller and instantly established McCullers on the American literary scene. Critics hailed her as a major emerging talent. The novel explores the inability of human beings to soothe others' loneliness. +/-