Carolyn See

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Carolyn See
Born Caroline Laws[1]
(1934-01-13)January 13, 1934
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, Professor, Critic
Spouses Richard See, Tom Sturak
Children Lisa See, Clara Sturak

Carolyn See (born Caroline Laws;[2] January 13, 1934) is an adjunct professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles,[3] and the author of nine books, including the memoir, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America, an advice book on writing, Making a Literary Life, and the novels There Will Never Be Another You and The Handyman.

Early life[edit]

See was born in Pasadena, California to Kate Daly and George Laws.[4][5] See's father was a would-be novelist and sometimes journalist who told her to read the Horatio Hornblower books when she was eight so that she wouldn't later get stuck in the nautical details of Moby Dick.[4] Her father left her home when she was eleven and she was raised by her mother.[4]


See earned her associate degree from Los Angeles City College. During her second year at City college she married Richard See and moved with him to Newfoundland where he was mustered for the Korean War.[4] When they returned to L.A. See attended and earned her M.A. from California State University, Los Angeles and gave birth to her first daughter, Lisa See.[2][4][5] See won the Samuel Goldwyn Creative Writing Contest in 1958 for her unpublished novel The Waiting Game and used the two hundred and fifty dollar prize money to pay for her divorce from Richard See.[4] After her divorce, See married Tom Sturak and had her second daughter Clara Sturak.[4] See later finished her doctorate at UCLA and her dissertation was on the Hollywood novel.[5]

In the late 1960s See began writing articles for the Los Angeles Times and celebrity profiles for TV Guide.[4] At this time See worked out her writing habit—one thousand words a day on white unlined paper in felt pens.[4] While writing non-fiction articles and reviews, See was approached by Little, Brown editor Harry Sions who encouraged her to write a novel which became The Rest is Done with Mirrors.[4]

See's first teaching job was as a professor of English at Loyola Marymount University from 1970 until 1985.[2][4][5] This was followed by a period as a visiting professor of English at her alma mater, UCLA, from 1986 to 1989, where she would later become an adjunct professor.[2] See also earned money by testifying for the defense in pornography trials, leading to the successful book Blue Money: Pornography and the Pornographers.[6]

See was a frequent book reviewer for The Washington Post having previously been a book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and Newsday.[2] See retired from the Washington Post in 2014 after 27 years.[7] See has been on the boards of the National Book Critics Circle and PENWest International.

She lives in Pacific Palisades, California.

See's eldest daughter is the novelist, Lisa See.

See has also written books under the pen name Monica Highland, a name she shared with two others, her daughter Lisa See and her longtime companion, John Espey, who died in 2000.

See is known for writing novels set in Los Angeles and has co-edited books that revolve around the city, including a book of short stories, LA Shorts, and the pictorial books Santa Monica Bay: Paradise by the Sea : A Pictorial History of Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Ocean Park, Pacific Palisades, Topanga & Malibu, and The California Pop-Up Book, which celebrates the city's unique architecture.

Philosophical and/or political views[edit]

See is a feminist, and has said of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, "I was one of the persons whose lives that book changed."[4] After the publication of Rhine Maidens See announced that she wasn't interested in writing women's novel anymore.[5] See has been vocal that Blue Money was the only book of hers that men ever read.[5]

Published Works[edit]


  • The Rest Is Done with Mirrors. New York, Little Brown, 1970.
  • Mothers, Daughters. New York, Coward McCann Geoghegan, 1977.
  • Rhine Maidens. New York, Coward McCann Geoghegan, 1980; Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin, 1981.
  • Golden Days. New York, McGraw Hill, 1986; London, Century, 1987.
  • Making History. New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
  • The Handyman. New York, Random House, 1999.
  • There Will Never Be Another You. New York, Random House, 2006.


  • Blue Money: Pornography and the Pornographers. New York, Rawson, 1973.
  • Two Schools of Thought, with John Espey. Santa Barbara, California, Daniel, 1991.
  • Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America. New York, Random House, 1995.
  • Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers New York, Random House, 2002.

Novels as Monica Highland (with Lisa See and John Espey)[edit]

  • Lotus Land. New York, McGraw Hill, 1983.
  • 110 Shanghai Road. New York, McGraw Hill, 1986.
  • Greetings from Southern California. New York, McGraw Hill, 1988.

Short Stories[edit]


See has won both the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Getty Center fellowship. See was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award by the Los Angeles Times in 1993 which is an honor bestowed upon an author who writes about or lives in the West.[5]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l See, Carolyn (1995). "Carolyn See" (PDF). Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series 22. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Kirsch, Jonathan (31 October 1993). "Carolyn See, the Poet Laureate of Topanga Canyon". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Carolyn See, The Scholars and the Pornographer," The Rumpus October 13, 2009
  7. ^ Charles, Ron (5 August 2014). "Carolyn See retires from Book World". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 

External links[edit]