Shirley Ann Grau
Born(1929-07-08)July 8, 1929
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 3, 2020(2020-08-03) (aged 91)
Kenner, Louisiana, U.S.
Alma materNewcomb College
Notable worksThe Keepers of the House, The Black Prince, and Other Stories
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Fiction (1965)
Years active1955–2006
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,[1] and her work is set primarily in the Deep South[1] and explores issues of race and gender.

Early life

Grau was born in New Orleans on July 8, 1929. Her father worked as a dentist; her mother was a housewife.[2] She grew up in and around Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, with her mother.[3] She graduated in 1950 Phi Beta Kappa[4] with a B.A. degree from Newcomb College, the women's coordinate college of Tulane University.[5]


Grau's first collection of stories The Black Prince was nominated for the National Book Award in 1956.[6] Nine years later, her novel The Keepers of the House was awarded the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[7][8] 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."[9]


Grau's writing explores issues of death, destruction, abortion, and miscegenation, frequently set in historical Alabama[10] 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.[11]

Personal life

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.[2][6]



  1. ^ a b Simpson, Doug (December 26, 2003). "Shirley Ann Grau, Never Backing Down". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Harrison (August 4, 2020). "Shirley Ann Grau, a 'quiet force' in Southern literature, dies at 91". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  3. ^ Bass, Erin Z. (October 31, 2013). "Interview with Deep South Magazine". Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  4. ^ "Shirley Ann Grau Biography". Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Grau, Shirley Ann". Contemporary Novelists. January 1, 2001. Retrieved January 8, 2011.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b Pope, John (August 3, 2020). "Shirley Ann Grau, Metairie author who won Pulitzer Prize in 1965, dies at 91". The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  7. ^ "Pulitzer Winner Writes Between Domestic Crises". Edmonton Journal. July 5, 1965. p. 13. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  8. ^ Allen-Taylor, J. Douglas (February 26, 1998). "The World According To Grau". Metro Newspaper. San Jose, California.
  9. ^ Bass, Erin Z. (October 31, 2013). "The Undramatic Life of Shirley Ann Grau". Deep South Magazine. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "Shirley Ann Grau profile". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Shirley Ann Grau - Know Louisiana". Know Louisiana. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  12. ^ Grau, Shirley Ann (2003). Selected Stories. LSU Press. ISBN 9780807128831.