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 such volumes as A View of My Own: Essays in Literature and Society
(1962); Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
(1974), a study of female literary characters and of such writers as Virginia Woolf, the Brontës, and Sylvia Plath; and Sight-Readings: American Fictions
(1998), critical portraits of such writers as Margaret Fuller, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and various contemporaries. She also wrote essays on such topics as civil rights and feminism and 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
, and in the poems in The Dolphin
(1973) he used without permission her words from their correspondence when his infidelity led to the end of their marriage, causing literary scandal and pain to Hardwick.
See her collected essays ed. by D. Pinckney (2017); S. Hamilton, ed., The Dolphin Letters (2019).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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