My Literary Education with Elizabeth Hardwick

Darryl Pinckney in The New Yorker:

It was June, 1981. Elizabeth Hardwick was in Castine, the small town in Maine where she’d spent her summers for more than twenty years, since before her daughter, Harriet, was born. Even after Robert Lowell, her husband, left her, in 1970, she kept going. The flight from New York City to Bangor took only an hour; the rental car to Castine added another. “The drive is very nostalgia-creating,” she told me. When she arrived, she’d go grocery shopping, check in on the local couple who looked after the house for her, and be settled in by the time her old friend Mary McCarthy phoned. Mary and her husband had been coming to Castine almost as long as Elizabeth had. Mary lived on Main Street, but Elizabeth had remodelled a house on a bluff overlooking the water.

She wrote a great deal when she was in Maine, and she’d call me in New York to talk about her work. Those calls, her confidence, were an honor and a joy. She always came back to the city with something. In September, 1978, a year after Lowell died, she had returned with a blue box that contained the manuscript of her novel “Sleepless Nights.”

More here.