Name at birth: Lula Carson Smith
Carson McCullers was a critically acclaimed author of several popular novels in the 1940s and '50s, including The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) and The Member of the Wedding (1946). Marked by themes of loneliness and spiritual isolation, her novels frequently depicted small town life in the southeastern United States. McCullers suffered from ill health most of her adult life, including a series of strokes that began when she was in her 20s. She was twice married to Reeves McCullers, and their alcohol-fueled, dysfunctional relationship was legendary in the literary world. Reeves McCullers killed himself in 1953, and Carson McCullers died in 1967, at the age of 50. The Member of the Wedding was dramatized for the stage in the 1950s and filmed in 1952 and 1997. Other films based on her books are Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968, starring Alan Arkin) and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991).