Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Collected Essays
Elizabeth Hardwick


Elizabeth Hardwick wrote during the golden age of the American literary essay. For Hardwick, the essay was an imaginative endeavour, a serious form, criticism worthy of the literature in question. In the essays collected here she covers civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, describes places where she lived and locations she visited, and writes about the foundations of American literature – Melville, James, Wharton – and the changes in American fiction, though her reading is wide and international. She contemplates writers’ lives – women writers, rebels, Americans abroad – and the literary afterlife of biographies, letters, and diaries. Selected and with an introduction by Darryl Pinckney, The Collected Essays gathers more than fifty essays for a fifty-year retrospective of Hardwick’s work from 1953 to 2003. “For Hardwick,” writes Pinckney, “the poetry and novels of America hold the nation’s history.” Here is an exhilarating chronicle of that history.

Paperback, 640pp
New York Review of Books, 2017 (1979)
ISBN 9781681371542


ELIZABETH HARDWICK (1916-2007) was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and educated at the University of Kentucky and Columbia University. A recipient of a Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is the author of three novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays. She was a co-founder and advisory editor of The New York Review of Books and contributed more than one hundred reviews, articles, reflections, and letters to the magazine.


1. The Decline of Book Reviewing
2. Anderson, Millay, and Crane in Their Letters
3. William James: An American Hero
4. Mary McCarthy
5. The Neglected Novels of Christina Stead
6. Memoirs, Conversations and Diaries
7. George Eliot’s Husband
8. Loveless Love: Graham Greene
9. America and Dylan Thomas
10. The Subjection of Women
11. Simone Weill
12. Uncollected Stories of Faulkner
13. Meeting V S Naipaul
14. Ring Lardner
15. Robert Frost in His Letters
16. Domestic Manners
17. Thomas Mann at 100
18. Wives and Mistresses
19. Nabokov: Master Class
20. Bartleby in Manhattan
21. The Sense of the Present
22. Fiction
23. English Visitors in America
24. Letters of Delmore Schwartz
25. Mrs. Wharton in New York
26. On Washington Square
27. The Genius of Margaret Fuller
28. Gertrude Stein
29. Djuna Barnes: The Fate of the Gifted
30. Katherine Anne Porter
31. Wind from the Prairie (Masters, Sandburg)
32. Edmund Wilson
33. Norman Mailer: The Teller and the Tape
34. Mary McCarthy in New York
35. The Magical Prose of Poets: Elizabeth Bishop
36. Tru Confessions (Capote)
37. Melville: Redburn
38. Thomas Wolfe
39. Sinclair Lewis
40. Nathaniel West
41. Henry James
42. Tess Slesinger
43. Schhedrin
44. Boston
45. After Watts
46. Selma
47. The Emigre