Concept

Alison Lurie

Summary
Alison Stewart Lurie (September 3, 1926 - December 3, 2020) was an American novelist and academic. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her 1984 novel Foreign Affairs. Although better known as a novelist, she wrote many non-fiction books and articles, particularly on children's literature and the semiotics of dress. Alison Stewart Lurie was born on September 3, 1926, in Chicago, and raised in White Plains, New York. Her father Harry Lawrence Lurie was a sociologist, and her mother Bernice Lurie (née Stewart) was a journalist and book critic. Her father was born in Latvia and her mother was born in Scotland. Her father served as the First Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds. Due to complications with a forceps delivery, she was born deaf in one ear and with damage to her facial muscles. She attended a boarding school in Darien, Connecticut, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature. Lurie met literary scholar Jonathan Peale Bishop while in college, and they married in 1948. Bishop later taught at Amherst College and Cornell University, and Lurie moved along with him. They had three sons and divorced in 1984. She then married the writer Edward Hower. She spent part of her time in London, part in Ithaca, and part in Key West, Florida. In 1970, Lurie began to teach in the English department at Cornell, where she was tenured in 1979. She taught children's literature and writing. In 1976, she was named the F. J. Whiton Professor of American Literature at Cornell, and upon retirement, professor emerita. In 1981, she published The Language of Clothes, a non-fiction book about the semiotics of dress. Her discussion in Language of Clothes has been compared to Roland Barthes' The Fashion System (1985). Lurie died from natural causes while under hospice care in Ithaca, New York, on December 3, 2020, at age 94. Lurie's novels often featured professors in starring roles, and were frequently set at academic institutions.
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