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Mary McCarthy (author)

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Cause of death  Lung cancer
Role  Author
Name  Mary McCarthy
Children  Reuel Wilson
Education  Vassar College

Mary McCarthy (author) Con Spirito Vassar College Encyclopedia Vassar College
Full Name  Mary Therese McCarthy
Born  June 21, 1912 (1912-06-21) Seattle, Washington, US
Died  October 25, 1989, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Siblings  Kevin McCarthy, Preston McCarthy, Sheridan McCarthy
Spouse  James Raymond West (m. 1961–1989)
Movies  The Group, Women & Men: Stories of Seduction, Chasing Trouble, Irish Luck
Books  The Group, Memories of a Catholic, The company she keeps, The Groves of Academe, The stones of Florence
Similar People  Edmund Wilson, Hannah Arendt, Kevin McCarthy, Margarethe von Trotta, Dorothy Parker

An introduction to mary mccarthy

Mary Therese McCarthy (June 21, 1912 – October 25, 1989) was an American novelist, critic and political activist.


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Early life

Mary McCarthy (author) Remembering Mary McCarthy39s Style The New York Times

Born in Seattle, Washington, to Roy Winfield McCarthy and his wife, the former Martha Therese Preston, McCarthy was orphaned at the age of six when both her parents died in the flu epidemic of 1918. She and her brothers, Kevin, Preston, and Sheridan, were raised in very unhappy circumstances by her Catholic father's parents in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the direct care of an uncle and aunt she remembered for harsh treatment and abuse.

Mary McCarthy (author) The Group by Mary McCarthy Book review Books The

When the situation became intolerable, she was taken in by her maternal grandparents in Seattle. Her maternal grandmother, Augusta Morganstern, was Jewish, and her maternal grandfather, Harold Preston, a prominent attorney and co-founder of the law firm Preston Gates & Ellis, was Presbyterian. (Her brothers were sent to boarding school.) McCarthy credited her grandfather, who helped draft one of the nation's first Workmen's Compensation Acts, with helping form her liberal views. McCarthy explores the complex events of her early life in Minneapolis and her coming of age in Seattle in her memoir, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. Her younger brother, actor Kevin McCarthy, went on to star in such movies as Death of a Salesman (1951) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

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Under the guardianship of the Prestons, McCarthy studied at the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Seattle and Annie Wright Seminary in Tacoma, and went on to graduate from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1933 with an A.B., cum laude, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Beliefs as an adult

Mary McCarthy (author) The Formidable Friendship of Mary McCarthy and Hannah Arendt The

McCarthy left the Catholic Church as a young woman when she became an atheist. In her contrarian fashion, McCarthy treasured her religious education for the classical foundation it provided her intellect while at the same time she depicted her loss of faith and her contests with religious authority as essential to her character.

Mary McCarthy (author) 10 Notorious Literary Spats Page 5 Flavorwire

In New York, she moved in "fellow-traveling" Communist circles early in the 1930s, but by the latter half of the decade she repudiated Soviet-style Communism, expressing solidarity with Leon Trotsky after the Moscow Trials, and vigorously countering playwrights and authors she considered to be sympathetic to Stalinism.

Mary McCarthy (author) Mary McCarthy Speaks

As part of the Partisan Review circle and as a contributor to The Nation, The New Republic, Harper's Magazine, and The New York Review of Books, she garnered attention as a cutting critic, advocating the necessity for creative autonomy that transcends doctrine. During the 1940s and 1950s she became a liberal critic of both McCarthyism and Communism. She maintained her commitment to liberal critiques of culture and power to the end of her life, opposing the Vietnam War in the 1960s and covering the Watergate scandal hearings in the 1970s. She visited Vietnam a number of times during the Vietnam War. Interviewed after her first trip, she declared on British television that there was not a single documented case of the Viet Cong deliberately killing a South Vietnamese woman or child. She wrote favorably about the Viet Cong.

Social life

Mary McCarthy (author) In Which God Knows Whatever Possessed Hannah Arendt And Mary

She married four times. In 1933 she married Harald Johnsrud, an actor and would-be playwright. Her best-known spouse was the writer and critic Edmund Wilson, whom she married in 1938 after leaving her lover Philip Rahv, and with whom she had a son, Reuel Wilson. In 1946 she married Bowden Broadwater, who worked for the New Yorker. In 1961, McCarthy married career diplomat James R. West.

Mary McCarthy (author) McCarthy Mary 19121989 HistoryLinkorg

Although she broke ranks with some of her Partisan Review colleagues when they swerved toward conservative politics after World War II, she carried on lifelong friendships with Dwight Macdonald, Nicola Chiaromonte, Philip Rahv, F. W. Dupee and Elizabeth Hardwick. Perhaps most prized of all was her close friendship with Hannah Arendt, with whom she maintained a sizable correspondence widely regarded for its intellectual rigor. After Arendt's passing, McCarthy became Arendt's literary executor from 1976 until her own death in 1989. McCarthy taught at Bard College from 1946 to 1947, and once again between 1986 and 1989. She also taught a winter semester in 1948 at Sarah Lawrence College.

Literary reputation

Her debut novel, The Company She Keeps, received critical acclaim as a succès de scandale, depicting the social milieu of New York intellectuals of the late 1930s with unreserved frankness. After building a reputation as a satirist and critic, McCarthy enjoyed popular success when her 1963 novel The Group remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years. Her work is noted for its precise prose and its complex mixture of autobiography and fiction.

Randall Jarrell's 1954 novel Pictures from an Institution is said to be about McCarthy's year teaching at Sarah Lawrence.

Her feud with fellow writer Lillian Hellman formed the basis for the play Imaginary Friends by Nora Ephron. The feud had simmered since the late 1930s over ideological differences, particularly the questions of the Moscow Trials and of Hellman's support for the "Popular Front" with Stalin. McCarthy provoked Hellman in 1979 when she famously said on The Dick Cavett Show: "every word [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."

Hellman responded by filing a $2.5 million libel suit against McCarthy, which ended shortly after Hellman died in 1984. Observers of the trial noted the resulting irony of Hellman's defamation suit is that it brought significant scrutiny, and decline of Hellman's reputation, by forcing McCarthy and her supporters to prove that she had lied.

McCarthy also engaged in a controversy with USAF general James Risner over their meeting while he was a POW in North Vietnam.


McCarthy was the winner of the Horizon Prize in 1949, and was awarded two Guggenheim fellowships in 1949 and 1959. She was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome. In 1973, she delivered the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden, the Netherlands, under the title Can There Be a Gothic Literature? The same year she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She won the National Medal for Literature and the Edward MacDowell Medal in 1984.

McCarthy held honorary degrees from Bard, Bowdoin, Colby, Smith College, Syracuse University, The University of Maine at Orono, The University of Aberdeen, and the University of Hull.


McCarthy died of lung cancer on October 25, 1989, at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Film portrayals

In the 2012 German movie Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy is portrayed by Janet McTeer.

Selected works

  • The Company She Keeps (1942), Harvest/HBJ, 2003 reprint: ISBN 0-15-602786-0
  • The Oasis (1949),, 1999 edition: ISBN 1-58348-392-6
  • Cast a Cold Eye (1950), HBJ, 1992 reissue: ISBN 978-0-15-615444-4
  • The Groves of Academe (1952), Harvest/HBJ, 2002 reprint: ISBN 0-15-602787-9
  • A Charmed Life (1955), Harvest Books, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-15-616774-3
  • Venice Observed (1956), Harvest/HBJ, 1963 edition: ISBN 0-15-693521-X (the 1963 edition lacks the illustrations present in the original book)
  • The Stones of Florence (1956), Harvest/HBJ, 2002 reprint of 1963 edition: ISBN 0-15-602763-1 (the 1963 edition lacks the illustrations present in the original book)
  • Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957), Harvest/HBJ, 1972 reprint: ISBN 0-15-658650-9 (autobiography)
  • On the Contrary (1961), LBS, 1980 reissue: ISBN 0-297-77736-X
  • The Group (1963), Harvest/HBJ, 1991 reprint: ISBN 0-15-637208-8, adapted as a 1966 movie of the same name.
  • Vietnam (1967), Harcourt, Brace & World, ISBN 0-15-193633-1
  • Hanoi (1968), Harcourt, Brace & World, ISBN 0-15-138450-9
  • The Writing on the Wall (1970), Mariner Books, ISBN 0-15-698390-7
  • Birds of America (1971), Harcourt, 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-15-612630-3
  • Medina (1972), Harvest/HBJ, ISBN 0-15-158530-X
  • The Mask of State: Watergate Portraits (1974), Harvest Books, ISBN 0-15-657302-4
  • Cannibals and Missionaries (1979), Harvest/HBJ, 1991 reprint: ISBN 0-15-615386-6 (novel explores the psychology of terrorism)
  • Ideas and the Novel (1980), Harvest/HBJ, ISBN 0-15-143682-7
  • How I Grew (1987), Harvest Books, ISBN 0-15-642185-2 (intellectual autobiography age 13–21)
  • Intellectual Memoirs (1992), published posthumously (edited and with a foreword by Elizabeth Hardwick)
  • A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays (2002), New York Review Books, (compilation of essays and critiques), ISBN 1-59017-010-5
  • Books about McCarthy

  • Sabrina Fuchs Abrams, Mary McCarthy: Gender, Politics, And The Postwar Intellectual, (2004), Peter Lang Publishing, ISBN 0-8204-6807-X
  • Frances Kiernan, Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy, (2000), W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-32307-2
  • Eve Stwertka (editor), Twenty-Four Ways of Looking at Mary McCarthy: The Writer and Her Work, (1996), Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-29776-2
  • Carol Brightman (editor), Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 1949–1975, (1996), Harvest/HBJ, ISBN 0-15-600250-7
  • Carol Brightman, Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy And Her World, (1992), Harvest Books, ISBN 0-15-600067-9
  • Joy Bennet, Mary McCarthy; An Annotated Bibliography, (1992), Garland Press, ISBN 0-8240-7028-3
  • Carol Gelderman, Mary McCarthy: A Life, 1990, St Martins Press, ISBN 0-312-00565-2
  • Doris Grumbach, The Company She Kept, 1967, Coward-McCann, Inc., LoC CCN: 66-26531,
  • References

    Mary McCarthy (author) Wikipedia