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COLUMBUS, Ga. — Carson McCullers was a novelist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist and poet who grew up in the Southern home that is now Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Georgia. Known as one of the most significant American writers of the 20th century, McCullers earned rave reviews for her debut novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” Before she died at age 50 in 1967, she crossed paths with many notable figures, and her work still inspires fans to this day.
A good friend to McCullers, the popular pin-up icon and Hollywood actress shared tea time with Carson. In fact, the chair Marilyn sat on during an evening at Carson’s Nyack, New York, home (also owned by CSU) is now part of the McCullers Center in Columbus.
The international media mogul reconnected audiences to McCullers’ work during 2004 when she selected “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” for her book club. Sales skyrocketed with 700,000 new paperback editions printed. The 76-year-old book became No. 1 bestseller during May of that year and brought public awareness about the classic novel to the 21st century.
Once a close friend of McCullers, Capote also became a trailblazing writer from the South with works including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood.” The two talented writers fell out after McCullers accused Capote of using some of her material and not showing appreciation for her support in his career.
Harrison Ford’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” costar will debut her short film based on McCullers’ award-winning short story “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” Feb. 19, 2017, at CSU. The viewing is part of McCullers 100th birthday celebration and will mark the first movie Allen has directed.
A close friend of McCullers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” collaborated with McCullers. He suggested the stage adaptation of her novel “The Member of the Wedding” into a poignant play, which garnered enormous outcomes when it debuted on Broadway during 1950.
Carson at 100: The McCullers Centennial
Columbus State University and a myriad of partners are celebrating McCullers’ 100th birthday this week, culminating with an event on Sunday, Feb. 19 that will include actress Karen Allen, who has appeared in films such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Sandlot,” “Scrooged” and “Animal House.” Allen is a devoted McCullers fan and will use her Columbus visit as the occasion to unveil the first movie she has ever directed, a short film based on the McCullers story “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. Admission is free.
The following Monday, Allen will visit campus to deliver the keynote address for CSU’s Common Reading Assembly at noon in University Hall. All first-year students read McCuller’s “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” The event will be simulcast in Legacy Hall.
For more information about Carson at 100, please visit www.mccullerscenter.org.