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Hortense Calisher

Praised as a “writer’s writer” for her unique voice and deft style, Hortense Calisher was little known outside the literary community despite winning the highest honors for her novels and memoirs. Calisher began writing after her divorce in her mid-thirties, drawing on her father’s Southern roots and her own experiences as a New York Jew in suburbia to create complex portraits of Jews as outsiders. Her style has been compared to those of Henry James and Edith Wharton for its surprising turns and the rich inner life of the characters. Unusually, Calisher often returned to characters or families from previous books, finding new insights into their stories. Honored for her writing with two Guggenheim Fellowships and a National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, Calisher grew and evolved as a writer throughout her career, writing some of her most ambitious and groundbreaking work in her seventies and eighties and continuing to write and publish until the last years of her extraordinarily long life.

More on: Fiction, Memoirs
"Sunday Jews" Book Cover by Hortense Calisher, 2002
Full image
The front cover of Hortense Calisher's Sunday Jews (Harcourt Books, 2002).
Date of Birth
December 20, 1911
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
January 13, 2009

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Hortense Calisher." (Viewed on January 17, 2018) <>.


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