Hardwick, Elizabeth

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hardwick, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Hardwick, 1916–2007, American literary critic, novelist, and short-story writer, b. Lexington, Ky.; grad Univ. of Kentucky (B.A., 1938; M.A., 1939). She moved (1939) to New York City, where she studied at Columbia and soon became a member of a circle of prominent urban intellectuals. Early associated with the Partisan Review, she was one of the founders (1962) of the New York Review of Books and was an editor of it and frequent contributor to it and to the New Yorker. Insightful, sophisticated, witty, and often acerbic, her essays were collected in A View of My Own: Essays in Literature and Society (1962); Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature (1974), a brilliant study of female literary characters and of such writers as Virginia Woolf, the Brontës, and Sylvia Plath; Bartleby in Manhattan and Other Essays (1983); and Sight-Readings: American Fictions (1998), critical portraits of such writers as Margaret Fuller, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and various contemporaries. She also wrote a critical biography of Herman Melville (2000) and edited The Selected Letters of William James (1961) and a work on American women writers (1977). Her three novels, which are at least partially autobiographical, are The Ghostly Lover (1945), The Simple Truth (1955), and the highly acclaimed Sleepless Nights (1979), a book of memories portrayed in evocative vignettes. Her fiction also includes numerous short stories. Hardwick was married (1949–72) to the poet Robert Lowell.

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