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Definition: Stafford, Jean from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1915–79, American writer, b. Covina, Calif., grad. Univ. of Colorado, 1936. Her literary reputation rests primarily on her exquisitely wrought short stories. Both these and her novels focus on lonely, isolated characters, usually adolescents, whom she depicts with gentle irony. Her works include the novels Boston Adventure (1944), The Mountain Lion (1948), and The Catherine Wheel (1952) and her Collected Stories (1969; Pulitzer Prize). She was married to Robert Lowell.

Summary Article: Stafford, Jean
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US short-story writer and novelist

She was born in Covina, California, and educated at Colorado University, where she won a travelling scholarship to Heidelberg, Germany, in 1936. On her return to the USA, she met and married Robert Lowell against his family's wishes in 1940. She worked on the Southern Review and taught at Flushing College. Boston Adventure, her first novel, was published in 1944 to great acclaim, and The Mountain Lion, her second, appeared in 1947. However, her stormy marriage to Lowell collapsed, and she was admitted to psycho-alcoholic clinics; the couple divorced in 1948. She published The Catherine Wheel in 1952, and during the 1960s she taught, and published short stories, children's books and a series of interviews with the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, A Mother in History (1966). One of the USA's most admired short-story writers, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Stories (1969).

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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