Shirley Ann Grau was born in New Orleans and spent her childhood in New Orleans and in Montgomery, Ala. She attended Margaret Booth School in Montgomery but transferred to a high school in New Orleans for her senior year. Grau graduated with honors from H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, Tulane University, with a BA in English in 1950. She wanted to go on for her PhD intent on a career of teaching and writing. However, the head of English department refused to allow women to serve as teaching assistants, so she left after one year of graduate study to write full-time.
Grau started writing stories as a child and began publishing them in 1951. Her first book, a collection of stories called The Black Prince, was published in 1955. Her first novel, The Hard Blue Sky, was published in 1958. In 1965, Grau won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Keepers of the House, a novel set in rural Alabama. She continues to write and publish both short stories and novels. Grau divides her time between New Orleans and Martha’s Vineyard.
Although Shirley Ann Grau resists classification as a Southern or regional writer, she acknowledges that “place” plays a strong role in her writing, particularly in her earlier works. Her works address racial and gender issues and frequently depict women struggling against traditional roles.
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Photo by Jerry Bauer; courtesy of Louisiana State University Press.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.