Elizabeth Hardwick (writer)

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Elizabeth Hardwick
Elizabeth Hardwick (writer).jpg
Born(1916-07-27)July 27, 1916
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedDecember 2, 2007(2007-12-02) (aged 91)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Kentucky
Notable awardsGuggenheim Fellowship
American Academy of Arts and Letters (1977)
Robert Lowell
(m. 1949; div. 1972)

Elizabeth Hardwick (July 27, 1916 – December 2, 2007) was an American literary critic, novelist, and short story writer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hardwick was born in Lexington, Kentucky on July 27, 1916 to a strict and large Protestant family.[2] She was the daughter of Eugene Allen Hardwick, a plumbing and heating contractor, and Mary (née Ramsey) Hardwick.[3]

She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1939. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947.[4]


In 1959, Hardwick published in Harper's, "The Decline of Book Reviewing," a generally harsh and even scathing critique of book reviews published in American periodicals of the time. She published four books of criticism: A View of My Own (1962), Seduction and Betrayal (1974), Bartleby in Manhattan (1983), and Sight-Readings (1998).[1] In 1961, she edited The Selected Letters of William James.[1]

The 1962 New York City newspaper strike helped inspire Hardwick, Robert Lowell, Jason Epstein, Barbara Epstein, and Robert B. Silvers to found The New York Review of Books, a publication that became as much a habit for many readers as The New York Times Book Review, which Hardwick had eviscerated in her 1959 essay.[2]

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Hardwick taught writing seminars at Barnard College and Columbia University's School of the Arts, Writing Division. She gave forthright critiques of student writing and was a mentor to students she considered promising.[5]

She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.[6] In 2000, she published a short biography, Herman Melville, in Viking Press's Penguin Lives series.[1]

In 2008, The Library of America selected Hardwick's account of Caryl Chessman's crimes for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime writing. A collection of her short fiction, The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, was published posthumously in 2010,[7] as was The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick in 2017.[8]

Personal life[edit]

From July 28, 1949 until their eventual divorce in 1972, she was married to Robert Lowell, the Pulitzer Prize‐winning poet from the prominent Boston Brahmin family. Their daughter is Harriet Lowell.[1]

She died in a Manhattan hospital on December 2, 2007.[3][9]

Published works[edit]

She was the author of three novels:[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (4 December 2007). "Elizabeth Hardwick, Writer, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b Paul Bailey (8 December 2007). "Elizabeth Hardwick: Writer, co-founder of 'The New York Review of Books' and long-suffering wife of Robert Lowell". The Independent.
  3. ^ a b Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (5 December 2007). "Elizabeth Hardwick, Critic, Novelist and Restless Woman of Letters, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  4. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Elizabeth Hardwick". www.gf.org. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  5. ^ Darryl Pinckney (Summer 1985). "Elizabeth Hardwick, The Art of Fiction No. 87". The Paris Review.
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter H" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Tim Adams (29 August 2010). "The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick". The Observer.
  8. ^ Garner, Dwight (9 October 2017). "'The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick' Gives Off a Bright Light". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  9. ^ Walcott, Derek (17 January 2008). "Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007)". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 19 April 2019.

External links[edit]