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Mary McCarthy

(1912—1989) American novelist and critic


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(1912–89),

American novelist, short‐story writer, and critic; orphaned at the age of six, she was raised by various relatives of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant backgrounds, a mixture that she describes in Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood (1957). Her first novel, The Company she Keeps (1942), is a portrait of a Bohemian intellectual; The Groves of Academe (1952) is a satirical campus novel set in the McCarthy period; and The Oasis (1949, London 1950, as A Source of Embarrassment) describes the failure of a New England Utopia. Cast a Cold Eye (1950, short stories) and A Charmed Life (1955, novel) were followed by The Group (1963), a study of the lives and careers of eight Vassar girls, which caused some stir when published in England because of its frank and amusing descriptions of contraception, breast‐feeding, and other gynaecological matters. Two volumes of reportage, Vietnam (1967) and Hanoi (1968), protesting against American involvement in Vietnam, were followed by two novels, Birds of America (1971) and Cannibals and Missionaries (1980). She has also published several volumes of essays and criticism. Her second husband was Edmund Wilson.

Subjects: Literature.


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