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Born to Henry and Leonore (Link) Schmitt, she attended Chatham University, then transferred and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1932. She worked as an editor for Scholastic Magazine first in Pittsburgh and then in New York from 1933-42. From 1942-72 at Carnegie-Mellon University she became professor of English and fine arts, founding the creative writing department.
Her second novel David the King was a Literary Guild selection and #1 bestseller. This book sold more than one million copies and was translated into ten languages.
She married Simon Goldfield on November 27, 1939. They had one child, a niece whom they adopted, Betty Schmitt Culley.
- The Gates of Aulis, Dial (New York, NY), 1942.
- David the King (Literary Guild choice), Dial (New York, NY), 1946, reprinted, 1973.
- Alexandra, Dial (New York, NY), 1947.
- Confessors of the Name (Literary Guild selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1952.
- The Persistent Image, Dial (New York, NY), 1955.
- A Small Fire, Dial (New York, NY), 1957.
- Rembrandt (Literary Guild selection), Random House, 1961.
- The Heroic Deeds of Beowulf, Retold (juvenile), Random House, 1962.
- Electra (novel), Harcourt, 1965.
- Boris, the Lopsided Bear (juvenile), Collier, 1966.
- The Godforgotten, Harcourt, 1972.
- Sonnets for an Analyst, Harcourt, 1973.
- Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2002. PEN (Permanent Entry Number): 0000088026.
- Find A Grave (includes photo)