Back Jean Stafford

Jean Stafford

Jean Stafford photographed for Vogue magazine in 1966. (Adelaide de Menil/Condé Nast via Getty Images)

Major works:
Boston AdventureThe Mountain LionThe Catherine WheelThe Collected Stories of Jean Stafford

“The writing remains precisely honed, the sensibility intelligent and seemingly impartial. Among Stafford’s many strengths as a writer of fiction are a sharp poetic eye for the telling detail . . . and an authorial voice that ranges from the sinewy and vernacular to the coolly detached. If Stafford learned from Mark Twain on the one hand and from Proust, Henry James and Virginia Woolf on the other, these lessons were fully assimilated. In certain of her mature work the author’s voice is both immersed in the narrative and hovering above it, as in a ghostly meditation in which all action, all life, is retrospective.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

“What she does to the American scene is to show it as a landscape with a billboard in the center, a billboard that represents the human encroachment on nature, at times funny, at times sordid, at times pathetic, but at all times the reader’s and the author’s principal concern. She can find salvation in a detail, a word, a patch of color.”
—Louis Auchincloss

“Her protagonists—many of them female, all of them precariously poised, hungry for hope and a sense of belonging, and almost always disappointed in both—stand out for their ironic innocence, or more accurately for their innocent irony. With a childlike calm and clarity, Stafford looked into the abyss.”
—Ann Hurlburt

Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Support our mission