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

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)


Early lifeEdit

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 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 lifeEdit

From July 28, 1949 until their eventual divorce in 1972, she was married to Robert Lowell, the Pulitzer Prize‐winning poet from a prominent Boston Brahmin family. Lowell had previously been married to Jean Stafford, the short story writer and novelist. Their daughter is Harriet Lowell.[1] After their divorce, Lowell married Lady Caroline Blackwood, the eldest child of The 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava and the brewery heiress Maureen Guinness.[9]

She died in a Manhattan hospital on December 2, 2007.[3][10]

Published worksEdit

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". 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. ^ McQuiston, John T. (13 September 1977). "Robert Lowell Is Dead at 60 After Sudden Illness". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  10. ^ Walcott, Derek (17 January 2008). "Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007)". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 19 April 2019.

External linksEdit