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Hazzard, Shirley

Hazzard, Shirley, 1931–2016, Australian-American novelist and short-story writer, b. Sydney. Educated in Australia, she lived in Hong Kong, Italy, and New Zealand before settling in the United States in 1951, where she worked (1952–62) at the United Nations in New York. She later divided her time between New York City and Italy. Both she and her husband, writer Francis Steegmuller (1906–94), were frequent contributors to the New Yorker. Hazzard is noted for the insight, sensitivity, and subtlety of her writing and for a lyrical style sometimes leavened by gentle irony. In addition, her characters share her international experiences and perspectives. She achieved early critical success with her first story collection, Cliffs of Fall (1963), followed by People in Glass Houses (1967), a series of linked stories satirizing the bureaucratic life at the United Nations, and two novels of Italy, The Evening of the Holiday (1966) and The Bay of Noon (1970). Her next novel, The Transit of Venus (1980), a psychologically rich treatment of interconnected stories set in modern England, brought her literary acclaim and a greatly expanded readership. Hazzard did not publish another novel until The Great Fire (2003), a bittersweet post–World War II love story that received the National Book Award. Hazzard also wrote nonfiction works, including Countenance of Truth (1990), about the Kurt Waldheim case, and Greene on Capri (2000), a memoir of her friend Graham Greene.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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