Shirley Ann Grau
|Born||July 8, 1929|
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||August 3, 2020 (aged 91)|
Kenner, Louisiana, U.S.
|Alma mater||Newcomb College|
|Notable works||The Keepers of the House, The Black Prince, and Other Stories|
|Notable awards||Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1965)|
James K. Feibleman
(m. 1955; d. 1987)
Shirley Ann Grau (July 8, 1929 – August 3, 2020) was an American writer. She was born in New Orleans, and her work is set primarily in the Deep South and explores issues of race and gender.
Grau was born in New Orleans on July 8, 1929. Her father worked as a dentist; her mother was a housewife. She grew up in and around Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, with her mother. She graduated in 1950 Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. degree from Newcomb College, the women's coordinate college of Tulane University.
Grau's first collection of stories The Black Prince was nominated for the National Book Award in 1956. Nine years later, her novel The Keepers of the House was awarded the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The night she was called about the Pulitzer Prize, she thought it was a practical joke from a friend whose voice she thought she recognized. "'I was awfully short-tempered that morning because I'd been up all night with one of my children,' Grau said ... 'So, I said to the voice I mistook, "yeah and I'm the Queen of England too," and I hung up on him.'" The Pulitzer Prize committee member did not give up and called her publisher Alfred A. Knopf. "The news got to me, but that was very embarrassing."
Grau's writing explores issues of death, destruction, abortion, and miscegenation, frequently set in historical Alabama or Louisiana. Although she does not restrict her writing to the Deep South or to stories about women, she is recognized as an important writer in the fields of women's studies, feminist literature, and Southern literature.
Grau married James K. Feibleman, a fellow writer and a professor of philosophy at Tulane University, in 1955. The pair were introduced by Grau's friend who was also a student of Feibleman. She legally changed her surname to his, but retained her maiden name when writing. Together, they had four children—two sons (Ian and William) and two daughters (Nora and Katherine). The family settled in Metairie, on the outskirts of New Orleans, and they remained married until his death in 1987. Grau died on August 3, 2020, at a retirement home in Kenner, Louisiana. She was 91 and had suffered from complications of a stroke.