Carr, Virginia Spencer 1929-

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Carr, Virginia Spencer 1929-

PERSONAL: Born July 21, 1929, in West Palm Beach, FL; daughter of Louis Perry and Wilma Spencer; married Roger Alton Carr, June 14, 1951 (divorced, January 2, 1975); children: Karen, Catherine, Kimberly. Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1951, Ph.D., 1969; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, M.A., 1952. Religion: Presbyterian.

ADDRESSES: Home—Atlanta, GA.

CAREER: Palm Beach Junior College, Lake Worth, FL, instructor in English and journalism, 1960-62; Armstrong State College, Savannah, GA, assistant professor of English and director of freshman English, 1963-67; Columbus College, Columbus, GA, associate professor of English, 1969-85, senior Fulbright professor in Poland, 1980-81; Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, English department chair, 1985-93, John B. and Elena Diaz Verson Amos distinguished chair of English letters, 1993-2003. Member of board of governors and teacher of creative writing, Musemont Fine Arts Camp.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, Society for the Study of Southern Literature, American Studies Association, American Association of University Professors, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Southeastern American Studies Association, Quill and Scroll, Kappa Gamma Delta, Lambda Iota Tau (moderator, Columbus College, 1967-72), Alpha Omicron Pi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Melon Fellowship, University of Texas; Stanley J. Kahrl Fellowship, Harvard University; outstanding teacher award, Florida State University, 1968; Pulitzer Prize nominations for The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers and Dos Passos: A Life; John Hurt Fisher Award, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, 2004.


The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers, introduction by Tennessee Williams, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1975, new edition, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2003.

Dos Passos: A Life, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984, new edition, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 2004.

Understanding Carson McCullers, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1990, reprinted, 2005.

(Editor and author of introduction) Katherine Anne Porter, Flowering Judas, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1993.

Paul Bowles: A Life, Peter Owen (London, England), 2005.

Author of introduction, It’s Good Weather for Fudge: Conversing with Carson McCullers, by Sue Walker, NewSouth Books (Montgomery, AL), 2005. Contributor of articles and book reviews to Choice, Haiku, Highlights, and other periodicals. SIDELIGHTS: Virginia Spencer Carr is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated works The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers and Dos Passos: A Life. Can once told CA: “A Ph.D. dissertation on Carson McCullers begun just prior to her death in 1967 was the immediate impetus to the biography that evolved eight years later. In 1969 I moved to Columbus, Mrs. McCullers’ hometown, and began depth research. It was in Nyack, New York, New York City, Yaddo, Breadloaf, Paris, and other areas out of the South, however, from which the most revealing and multifaceted portraits of Carson McCullers emerged. The ‘McCullers estate’ reportedly was opposed to the writing and research of this biography until all principals were dead, but of course, by then I probably would be, too. Anything short of a depth biography of McCullers would have been a travesty, and Carson herself would have led the hooters.” Reviewing The Lonely Hunter, a Library Journal critic stated: “This is likely to become the definitive biography of McCullers.”

In Paul Bowles: A Life, Carr examines the American poet, translator, critic, and composer whose novel The Sheltering Sky is considered a masterpiece of existential literature. An icon of the beat movement, Bowles befriended such celebrated artists as Aaron Copland, Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, and Tennessee Williams. Though he was openly gay, Bowles enjoyed a long marriage to writer Jane Auer, with whom he lived in Tangier, Morocco, for more than three decades. According to Lambda Book Report contributor Lawrence E. Butler, “Carr tackles it all in immense detail.” Butler noted, however, that Carr “seems to limit herself to stating facts, letting excerpts from letters and conversations hint at motivations and moods without further comment,” and concluded: “The result is an admirable work of archival scholarship, but it is a biographical reference work rather than a book for readers.” A critic in Kirkus Reviews similarly noted that the author “has enmeshed herself so exclusively in her subject that she fails to offer a sense of the compelling currents of the day.” Kate Bolick, reviewing the work in Vogue, offered a more positive assessment, stating that “Bowles’s uncharacteristic and disarming candor illuminate an uncommonly interesting life and time.” According to Bradford H. Meyerdierks, writing in Music Educators Journal, the work “presents possibly the perfect case study of one person’s versatile life. For those unfamiliar with his vast accomplishments, this particular biography will show what made the multifaceted Paul Bowles a Renaissance man of his time.”



African Business, January, 2006, review of Paul Bowles: A Life, p. 64.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Paul Bowles, p. 785.

Lambda Book Report, April-May, 2005, Lawrence E. Butler, “Teeming Tell-all,” p. 43.

Library Journal, July 1, 1975, review of The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers; July, 2003, Michael Rogers, review of The Lonely Hunter, p. 134.

Music Educators Journal, January, 2006, Bradford H. Meyerdierks, review of Paul Bowles, p. 19.

New York Times Book Review, August 24, 1975, review of The Lonely Hunter, p. 7.

Opera News, March, 2005, David J. Baker, review of Paul Bowles, p. 71.

Time, July 21, 1975, review of The Lonely Hunter, p. 63.

Vogue, November, 2004, Kate Bolick, “On the Road: A New Biography Follows the Wanderings of Paul Bowles, the Original Hipster,” p. 280.

Washington Post Book World, August 3, 1975, review of The Lonely Hunter, p. 3.*