Carson McCullers was an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and poet. Her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts in a small town of the U.S. South. Her other novels have similar themes and most are set in the deep South.McCullers’ oeuvre is often described as Southern Gothic and indicative of her southern roots. However, McCullers penned all of her work after leaving the South, and critics also describe her writing and eccentric characters as universal in scope. Her stories have been adapted to stage and film. A stagework of her novel The Member of the Wedding, which captures a young girl's feelings at her brother's wedding, made a successful Broadway run in 1950–51.Early life and educationShe was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgia in 1917. Her mother’s grandfather was a plantation owner and Confederate war hero. Her father was a watchmaker and jeweler of French Huguenot descent. From the age of ten she took piano lessons; when she was fifteen her father gave her a typewriter to encourage her story writing.Smith graduated from Columbus High School. In September 1934, at age 17, she left home on a steamship bound for New York City, planning to study piano at the Juilliard School of Music. After falling ill with rheumatic fever she returned to Columbus to recuperate, and she changed her mind about studying music. Returning to New York she worked in menial jobs while pursuing a writing career; she attended night classes at Columbia University and studied creative writing under the Texas writer Dorothy Scarborough and with Sylvia Chatfield Bates at Washington Square College of New York University. In 1936 she published her first work. "Wunderkind", an autobiographical piece that Bates admired, depicted a music prodigy's adolescent insecurity and losses. It first appeared in Story magazine and is collected in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.