Diana Trilling

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Diana Trilling
Diana Rubin

(1905-07-21)July 21, 1905
United States
DiedOctober 23, 1996(1996-10-23) (aged 91)
United States
OccupationLiterary critic
Spouse(s)Lionel Trilling (1929-1975; his death)
ChildrenJames Trilling

Diana Trilling (née Rubin; July 21, 1905 – October 23, 1996) was an American literary critic and author, one of the New York Intellectuals.


Born Diana Rubin, she married the literary and cultural critic Lionel Trilling in 1929 after an extended stay in Paris with childhood friend Margaret Lefranc. Her parents, Sadie (née Forbert) and Joseph Rubin, were Polish Jews, her father from Warsaw and her mother from the local countryside.[1]


Diana Trilling was a reviewer for The Nation magazine. Her works include We Must March My Darlings (1977), an essay collection; Mrs. Harris (1981), a study of and meditation on the trial of Jean Harris; and The Beginning of the Journey (1993), a memoir of her life and marriage to Lionel Trilling.

She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976.[2]

Cultural impact[edit]

Carolyn Heilbrun wrote about Trilling in her own final memoirs, When Men Were the Only Models We Had (2002). In his 1986 essay collection The Moronic Inferno, Martin Amis discusses the experience of meeting Trilling and her impact on New York City:[3]

In New York, Diana Trilling is regarded with the suspicious awe customarily reserved for the city's senior literary ladies. Whenever I announced my intention of going along to interview her, people looked at me with trepidation, a new respect, a certain holy dread. I felt I was about to enter the lion's den — or the den of the literary lionness, which is often just as dangerous.


  1. ^ "Diana Trilling - Jewish Women's Archive". Jwa.org. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter T" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  3. ^ Amis, Martin, "Diana Trilling at Claremont Avenue," The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America, London: Jonathan Cape, 1986. p. 63-4., ISBN 978-0140127195

Further reading[edit]

  • Natalie Robins: The untold journey : the life of Diana Trilling, New York : Columbia University Press, [2017], ISBN 978-0-231-18208-9

External links[edit]

  • The New York Times obituary dated October 15, 1996
  • The New York Times review dated October 24, 1993, of autobiography The Beginning of the Journey (article title: "It's Complicated... It's Very Complicated")
  • National Review obituary dated November 25, 1996.
  • The New Yorker reassessment dated May 29, 2017, "The Feuds of Diana Trilling: As a New York intellectual, she lived to battle her adversaries. Was her beloved husband among them?"
  • Diana Trilling at Find a Grave