Virginia Spencer Carr
|Virginia Spencer Carr|
July 21, 1929|
West Palm Beach, Florida
|Died||April 10, 2012
|Genres||Biography, Literary criticism|
|Notable work(s)||The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers; "John Dos Passos: A Life;" and "Paul Bowles: A Life"|
Relationships with those she wrote about
Carr first met Tennessee Williams in the early 1970s when she was in the preparatory stages of writing her biography on Carson McCullers, The Lonely Hunter.
Over the years, the two of them meet many times to discuss McCullers as well as other literary luminaries of Williams’ social circle. As a result, a friendship ensued and Carr, ultimately, garnered the rights to write Williams' biography.
Williams said upon his first meeting with Carr:
|“||She had not told me what color hat or dress she’d be wearing or where she’d be seated, but despite my rather poor eyesight, I spotted her at once. Her face had a certain smile which gave it a certain charm and within a minute or two I had dismissed my reluctance to share with her my many reminiscences of Carson, for I knew at once that this lady from Georgia, Carson’s native state, was someone who valued the spirit and the writing of Mrs. McCullers as deeply as I did, and it seemed to me that the preparation of this biographical and critical work had been undertaken by Mrs. Carr much in the way that the devout once made pilgrimages to sanctified places.
I pause here, for a moment, knowing that I will certainly be accused of romantic excess.
—Tennessee Williams' "Some Words Before," in The Loney Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers, 1974, 
In the last ten years of Paul Bowles' life, Carr formed a close, personal friendship with the reclusive, expatriate writer and composer.
She originally met him when she traveled to Morocco in 1989 to interview him for a biography on Tennessee Williams that she was drafting (never completed).
During her visit with Bowles, she asked him to sign a copy of a recently published biography on him, An Invisible Spectator, which prompted Bowles to state: "Does this book have anything to do with me?" As a result of this comment, and the later suggestion by Gore Vidal to postpone her work on Williams' biography and instead write one on Bowles, Carr shifted gears and began work on what would become Paul Bowles: A Life.
Bowles agreed to offer Carr his no-strings-attached cooperation on the work. The result - after twelve years, and thirteen trips to visit Bowles in Morocco, and arrangements she made for his medical treatment in Atlanta - was that Bowles revealed in person and in letters tantalizing revelations to Carr about his life and the people with whom he'd associated. It was understood from Carr that she couldn't publish any of this information until he had died.
Carr was able to read aloud to Bowles her completed work shortly before he died in 1999.
Family and home
Awards, honors, and distinctions
- Pulitzer Prize finalists for both The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers and Dos Passos: A life
- Senior Fulbright professor in Poland (1980–1981)
- Southern Historical Association’s Francis Butler Simkins Prize (The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers)
- Council of Authors and Journalist Nonfiction Prize (Dos Passos: A life)
- John B. and Elena Diaz Verson Amos Distinguished Professor Emerita of English Letters at Georgia State University (1993–2003)
- South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s John Hurt Fisher Award (2004)
- Melon Fellowship recipient awarded by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin
- Stanley J. Kahrl Fellowship awarded by Harvard University
- Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities
- South Atlantic Modern Language Association's Honorary Member Award (2011)
She was a professor of English at Columbus State University, until she accepted to chair the Department of English at Georgia State University in 1985. In 1993, she was named the John B. and Elena Diaz Verson Amos Distinguished Professor in English Letters, a position she held until her retirement in 2003.
A collection of Carr's papers is housed at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University 
Carr died of liver disease at her home in Lynn, Massachusetts, on April 10, 2012.
- A Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers with a foreword by Tennessee Williams (University of Georgia Press, Reprint, 2003)
- Dos Passos: A Life (Doubleday, 1984)
- Paul Bowles: A Life (Scribner 2004)
- Flowering Judas: Katherine Anne Porter (Women Writers: Text and Context), Editor (Rutgers University Press, 1993)
- Understanding Carson McCullers (University of South Carolina Press, Reprint 2005)
- Chitwood, Tim (2012-04-11). "Carson McCullers' biographer, Virginia Spencer Carr, dies at 82 | News | Columbus Ledger Enquirer". Ledger-enquirer.com. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
- Simon & Schuster
- Virginia Spencer Carr: Biographer, professor, and Southern belle by Luisa Cywinski, Villanova University, December 2004
- "Exotic Birds of a Feather: Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams," The Tennessee Williams Annual Review 2000
- The Loney Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975
- Bowles' Detached Life, Lonely, Artistic, but Satisfied by Philip Weiss, The New York Observer, November 2004
- Peter Owen Publishers, London
- Falvey Memorial Library Bio of Virginia Spencer Carr by Villanova University
- South Carolina University Press
- "Virginia Spencer Carr, 1929-2012: A Biographer's Work: Introduction". University of Delaware Library. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "The Virginia Spencer Carr Papers". Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.