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Ross, Lillian


ROSS, LILLIAN (1928?–), U.S. writer. Born in Syracuse, n.y., Ross moved to New York City in her youth and worked briefly for the newspaper pm before joining the staff of The New Yorker in 1945. Notoriously reticent about her age, she is listed in one literary reference work as having been born in 1928, which would have made her 17 when she went to work for the magazine. There she became one of the better-known practitioners of a style of fly-on-the-wall reporting in which the writer never directly imputes motivitation. Nevertheless, her portraits of people like Ernest Hemingway and Adlai Stevenson, among others, were considered to be succinct and revealing. In 1950, her first portrait of Hemingway was published in The New Yorker. It was an account of two days Hemingway spent in New York in 1949 on his way from Havana to Europe. Ross captures Hemingway shopping for an elephant gun at Abercrombie & Fitch, aiming an imaginary weapon at the sky while walking along Madison Avenue. To celebrate the centenary of Hemingway's birth, in 1999, Ross wrote a second portrait, detailing the friendship the two struck up after the completion of the first article. Together, the two works provide the definitive sketch of one of America's greatest writers. Ross stayed with the magazine until 1987 and returned in 1993. She was the author of 12 books, including her memoir Here but Not Here: A Love Story, about her 40-year relationship as the mistress of William Shawn, the longtime editor of The New Yorker.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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