Carolyn Heilbrun


Biography of Carolyn Heilbrun

Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (January 13, 1926 – October 9, 2003) was an American academic and prolific feminist author of both important academic studies and popular mystery novels under the pen name of Amanda Cross.

Heilbrun attended graduate school in English literature at Columbia University, receiving her M.A. in 1951 and Ph.D in 1959. Among her most important mentors were Columbia professors Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling, while Clifton Fadiman was an important inspiration: She wrote about these three in her final non-fiction work, When Men Were the Only Models We Had: My Teachers Barzun, Fadiman, Trilling (2002).

Heilbrun taught English at Columbia for more than three decades, from 1960 to 1992. She was the first woman to receive tenure in the English Department, not unlike Trilling, who was the first tenured Jew in that department less than two decades earlier. Her academic specialty was British modern literature, with a particular interest in the Bloomsbury Group. Her academic books include the feminist study Writing a Woman's Life (1988). In 1983, she co-founded and became co-editor of the Columbia University Press's Gender and Culture Series with literary scholar Nancy K. Miller. From 1985 until her retirement in 1992, she was Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia.

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