Maxim Lieber served as her literary agent in 1938, 1941, and 1948-1949. In Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina, McCullers wrote her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, in the Southern Gothic or perhaps Southern realist traditions. Suggested by McCullers's editor, the title was taken from Fiona MacLeod's poem "The Lonely Hunter." The novel was thought to be anti-Fascist at the time.
McCullers published eight books. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), which she wrote at the age of twenty-three; Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941); and The Member of the Wedding (1946) are the best known. The novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951) depicts loneliness and the pain of unrequited love. At the time of its writing, McCullers was a resident at Yaddo, the artists' colony in Saratoga, New York.
Many know her work only by their film adaptations. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was adapted as a film by the same title in 1968 with Alan Arkin starring in the lead role. Reflections in a Golden Eye was directed by John Huston (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. "I first met Carson McCullers during the war when I was visiting Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith in upstate New York," said Huston in his autobiography An Open Book (1980). "Carson lived nearby, and one day when Buzz and I were out for a walk she hailed us from her doorway. She was then in her early 20s, and had already suffered the first of a series of strokes. I remember her as a fragile thing with great shining eyes, and a tremor in her hand as she placed it in mine. It wasn't palsy, rather a quiver of animal timidity. But there was nothing timid or frail about the manner in which Carson McCullers faced life. And as her afflictions multiplied, she only grew stronger."
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