LURIE (1926- )
and scholar, is probably best known for her novels, which have
often been described as social satire. She has also published
a collection of ghost stories, Women and Ghosts (1994),
a book on the psychology of fashion, The Language of Clothes (1981), and a collection of essays on children's literature and
folklore, Don't Tell the Grownups (1990).
Her first novel, Love and Friendship (1962), is set in
the imaginary New England college town of Converse and describes
an unexpected love affair. The Nowhere City (1965) takes
place in Los Angeles, where Alison Lurie and her family lived
from 1957 to 1961. Its characters include a film starlet, a psychiatrist,
and other assorted local types. The War Between the Tates (1974)
is set in Corinth University, which has been said to have some
similarities to Cornell, and its main characters are a professor
who becomes involved with a graduate student, and his distressed
wife. It later became an NBC television film starring Elizabeth
Ashley and Richard Crenna.
Real People (1969) and Imaginary Friends (1967)
also take place in upstate New York: the first in an artists'
colony and the second in a small town where a group of eccentrics
believe themselves to be in touch with flying saucers. (This novel
was made into a Thames television series in 1987.) Only Children (1979), the story of a disastrous weekend houseparty, is also
set in rural New York state but in the 1930's.
Since 1970, Alison Lurie has spent part of the winter in Key West,
Florida, which is the setting for much of The Truth About Lorin
Jones (1989). She also visits Britain once a year. Foreign
Affairs (1984), which won the Pulitzer Prize, takes place
in London and relates the adventures of two American academics
abroad. It was made into a film for television with Joanne Woodward
and Brian Denehey. The Truth About Lorin Jones (1989),
follows the adventures of a biographer who is researching the
life of a famous woman painter. It won the Prix Femina Etranger
Alison Lurie is also the author of three collections of traditional
folktales for children, and was coeditor of the 73-volume Garland
Library of Children's Classics. Lurie has taught literature, folklore, humor, and writing at Cornell University since 1969 and is now the Frederic J. Whiton Professor of American Literature emerita. She has received numerous honors including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation grants, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction, and a D. Litt. from Oxford University.
married to the writer Edward Hower and has three grown sons and
three grandchildren. Her hobbies include gardening, needlepoint,
and the collecting of contemporary folklore and ghost stories.