Black and white photograph of critic and novelist Mary McCarthy.

Mary McCarthy

(1912 - 1989)

At the start of Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Mary McCarthy wrote, “One great handicap to this task of recalling has been the fact of being an orphan. The chain of recollection—the collective memory of a family—has been broken.” She lost her parents at the age of six during the influenza pandemic of 1918, living first with relatives in Minnesota and then with her grandparents in Seattle. Attending Vassar College at the same time as Elizabeth Bishop, she graduated in 1933 and soon began writing for The New Republic and The Nation. McCarthy published The Company She Keeps in 1942 and The Group in 1963, and she edited her friend Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind after Arendt died in 1975.

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