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.

Topics: Fiction, Memoirs

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The front cover of Hortense Calisher's Sunday Jews (Harcourt Books, 2002).
Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death
Social Worker, Writer

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Hortense Calisher." (Viewed on March 3, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/calisher-hortense>.


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