Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

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Carolyn Gold Heilbrun
Carolyn Gold Heilbrun.jpg
Born (1926-01-13)January 13, 1926
East Orange, New Jersey
Died October 9, 2003(2003-10-09) (aged 77)
New York City
Pen name Amanda Cross
Occupation Writer, professor
Alma mater Columbia University

Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (January 13, 1926 – October 9, 2003) was an American academic and prolific feminist author of both important academic studies and popular mystery novels under the pen name of Amanda Cross.[1]


Heilbrun attended graduate school in English literature at Columbia University, receiving her M.A. in 1951 and Ph.D in 1959.[1][2] Among her most important mentors were Columbia professors Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling, while Clifton Fadiman was an important inspiration: She wrote about these three in her final non-fiction work, When Men Were the Only Models We Had: My Teachers Barzun, Fadiman, Trilling (2002).

Heilbrun taught English at Columbia for more than three decades, from 1960 to 1992.[2] She was the first woman to receive tenure in the English Department. Her academic specialty was British modern literature, with a particular interest in the Bloomsbury Group.[1] Her academic books include the feminist study Writing a Woman's Life (1988). In 1983, she co-founded and became co-editor of the Columbia University Press's Gender and Culture Series with literary scholar Nancy K. Miller.[3] From 1985 until her retirement in 1992, she was Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia.[1][2]

Kate Fansler mystery novels[edit]

She was the author of fourteen Kate Fansler mysteries, written under the name Amanda Cross. Fansler, like Heilbrun, was an English professor. Heilbrun kept her second career as a mystery novelist secret in order to protect her academic career, until a fan discovered "Amanda Cross"'s true identity through copyright records. The novels, all set in academia, often were an outlet for Heilbrun's view on feminism, academic politics, and other political issues. Death in a Tenured Position (set at Harvard University) was particularly harsh in its criticism of the academic establishment's treatment of women.


Heilbrun was born in East Orange, New Jersey, to Archibald Gold and Estelle Roemer Gold. The family moved to Manhattan when she was a child.[1] She graduated from Wellesley College in 1947 at the top of her class. She married James Heilbrun and they had three children.[4] Carolyn Heilbrun committed suicide by taking an overdose of pills and placing a plastic bag over her head[5] at her apartment in New York City in 2003. According to her son, novelist Robert Heilbrun, she was not ill but felt her life had been completed.[1] A nearby note read "The journey is over. Love to all."[citation needed]


Cover of the 1966 Avon Books paperback edition of In the Last Analysis by Amanda Cross (Pseudonym of Carolyn G. Heilbrun). Cover art by Robert Abbett.

Kate Fansler mysteries[edit]

  • In The Last Analysis (1964)
  • The James Joyce Murder (1967)
  • Poetic Justice (1970)
  • The Theban Mysteries (1971)
  • The Question of Max (1976)
  • Death in a Tenured Position (1981, Nero Award winner)
  • Sweet Death, Kind Death (1984)
  • No Word From Winifred (1986)
  • A Trap for Fools (1989)
  • The Players Come Again (1990)
  • An Imperfect Spy (1995)
  • The Collected Stories (1997) most are for Kate Fansler
  • The Puzzled Heart (1998)
  • Honest Doubt (2000)
  • The Edge of Doom (2002)

Non-fiction, academic publications[edit]

In addition to her mystery novels, Heilbrun was the author of 14 nonfiction books, including the feminist study Writing a Woman's Life (1988). These books include:

  • The Garnett Family (1961)
  • Toward a Recognition of Androgyny (1973)
  • Lady Ottoline's Album (1976) (editor)
  • Reinventing Womanhood (1979)
  • The Representation of Women in Fiction (1983) (co-editor)
  • Writing a Woman's Life (1988)
  • Hamlet's Mother and Other Women (1990) (collection of essays)
  • The Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem (1995)
  • The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty (1997) ISBN 0-345-42295-3
  • When Men Were the Only Models We Had: My Teachers Barzun, Fadiman, Trilling (2002) ISBN 0-8122-3632-7


  1. ^ a b c d e f MccFadden, Robert D. "Carolyn Heilbrun, Pioneering Feminist Scholar, Dies at 77", The New York Times, October 11, 2003. Accessed December 18, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Carolyn Heilbrun". C250 Celebrates: Columbians Ahead of Their Time. Columbia University. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Gender and Culture Series". Columbia University Press. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ Vergel, Gina. "Economics Professor Remembered as a Gentleman and Scholar". Fordham University. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ European Journal of Life Writing

External links[edit]