Elizabeth Spencer

 

 

 

 

Biography of Elizabeth Spencer


by Lanetra Collins (Starkville High School)

From: http://www.shs.starkville.k12.ms.us/mswm/MSWritersAndMusicians/writers/Spencer.html

Elizabeth Spencer's experiences as a Southerner, a world traveler, and a college-trained educator are expressed throughout her many works of fiction. Although Spencer has lived all around the world, she displays a Southern sensibility. She writes with imaginative dialogue, spirited narrative, and a well-defined sense of place in which all is the grand tradition of Southern writers.


Elizabeth Spencer was born on
July 19, 1921 in Carrollton, Mississippi, to James Luther and Mary James McCain Spencer. In 1942, Spencer received a Bachelorís Degree in English from Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Upon graduation, she attended Vanderbilt University where she received a Masterís Degree. Afterwards, Spencer taught for two years; first, at Northwest Mississippi Junior College in Senatobia, Mississippi; and then, at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee. She resigned from teaching to work as a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean. In 1946, Spencer abandoned the craft of the journalist for that of the novelist, and her first novel, Fire in the Morning, was published two years later.She has been a full-time writer ever since.

 

On September 29, 1956, Elizabeth Spencer married John Rusher. Spencerís books include: Fire in the Morning (1948), This Crooked Way (1952), The Voice at the Back Door (1956), The Light in the Piazza (1960), Knights and Dragon (1965), No Place For an Angel (1967), Ship Island and Other Stories (1968), The Snare (1972), The Stories of Elizabeth Spencer (1981), and The Salt Line (1984)

Spencer has received many awards and honors for her writing including a Women's Democratic Committee Award--1949; National Institute of Arts and Letters Award--1953; Guggenheim Fellowship Award- 1953; Rosenthal Foundation Award, American Academy of Art and Letters --1956; Kenyon College Fellow in Fiction -- 1957; First McGraw-Hill Fiction Award--1960; Bryn Mawr College Donnelly Fellow--1962; Henry Bellamann Award for Creative Writing--1968; and D. L., Southwestern University--1968. She also received writing fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference--1951, Bryn Mawr --1963, University of North Carolina --1969, University of Indiana Summer Writer's Workshop--1971, 1973, Hollins College --1973, and most recently the Award of Merit Medal for the Short Story by the American Academy of Arts and Letters--1983.

 

 

The Southern Woman: New and Selected Fiction
By Elizabeth Spencer
Modern Library, $23.95
ISBN: 0679642188

 

 

 

Elizabeth Spencer

Meet the Author Tea
January 18, 2002

From: http://www.friendschpl.org/friends/tea_archive/tea2002 spencer.html

The recent Modern Library edition of Elizabeth Spencer's short fiction, titled The Southern Woman, is but the latest affirmation of excellence Spencer has received during her productive and illustrious career. This elegant new compilation contains 27 stories, covering every period from the 1940s to the present, and divides them into four categories: "The South," "Italy," "Up North" and "New Stories," which includes six previously unpublished works.

Elizabeth Spencer has been tagged a Southern Writer, an Expatriate Writer, and a Feminist Writer -- in truth, she is all this and much more. While her protagonists do tend to be women, her themes are universal and grapple with topics such as selfhood and the price one must pay to be independent, race relations, class consciousness, alienation, despair and evil, beautifully illuminating the complexities of the human condition. Her most masterful stories are richly ambiguous, revealing more with each successive reading.

Born into a well-to-do family in Carrolton, Mississippi in 1921, Spencer has set many of her works in the hill country and deltas of Mississippi and Louisiana. She met her lifelong friend Eudora Welty while at Belhaven college in Jackson, and began to write seriously after a year of graduate school at Vanderbilt. In her 1998 memoir Landscapes of the Heart, Spencer reveals that after a post-college grand tour of Europe, she returned home where an argument with her father made her realize "You don't belong here anymore." She spent much of the 1950s in Italy, then lived in Quebec, Canada for numerous years, setting many of her works in these countries.

Spencer is the author of numerous novels and story collections including Fire in the Morning, Jack of Diamonds, The Night Travellers, On the Gulf and The Stories of Elizabeth Spencer. Her most famous work is the novella "The Light in the Piazza", which The New Yorker - in a rare move - published in its entirety in a single issue. Acknowledged as one of America's outstanding fiction writers, Spencer received the Award of Merit Medal for the Short Story from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and letters in 1983. She has received five O'Henry prizes, and her stories have been included in editions of the O'Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses.

 

From: Senior Women Web: Culture Watch by Eileen Frost

Located at: http://www.seniorwomen.com/cult090601.html

 

 

In The Master at Shongalo a bright teenager invites her English teacher to spend the weekend at Shongalo, her opulent home. It has enough acreage to encompass sunken gardens and a herd of cattle kept sufficiently far away from the house that not "so much as a moo" was ever heard. The teacher has the chance to observe this family up close: the father, "whose regard was for his property," and the mother with her "inward airÖcontent in her place as Robert Stratton's wife at Shongalo, not needing to seek anything to fill her time." The parents are superficially cordial. "Among the rooms at Shongalo trivial conversations could spin on forever." Ultimately, however, the teacher recognizes that, for the parents, "I'm nobody really. A teacher from the town," someone to serve a purpose as their daughter's chaperone and then dismissed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credits

 

[Ed. Note:I DO NOT take any credit whatsoever for any of the information provided above.It was copied from the internet and is the work of the person or entitynamed in each heading.It is they who compiled and reviewed the information.My sole purpose is to put it in a common location.Please visit the yellow links provided for more information.]

 

 

Top Left Photo: †††† The Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project at Starkville High School located at http://www.shs.starkville.k12.ms.us/mswm/MSWritersAndMusicians/writers/Spencer.html

 

 

Top Right Photo: ††† Chattanooga Conference on Southern Literature located at

http://www.artsedcouncil.org/2/fellows/spencer.html