LIFE magazine described Mary McCarthy as the “lady with a switchblade,” and TIME referred to her as “really our only woman of letters.” She was well known for her quick wit, her uncompromising need to write the truth and her seemingly effortless ability to create controversy. Much has been written about her various relationships, her three marriages, her political, cultural and literary criticism and her friendships with the rich and powerful, but as Michiko Kakutani pointed out in an interview article on McCarthy a couple of years before McCarthy’s death, the interlocutor in much of McCarthy’s work is the Vassar McCarthy. “She is Meg in The Company She Keeps—the clever Vassar girl, ‘a princess among the trolls.' She is also Martha, the truth-telling 'bohemian lady' in A Charmed Life. She is Kay, iconoclast and scoffer in The Group. And she is Rosamund, the ardent and willfully noble esthete in Birds of America.” McCarthy wrote several times that Vassar “changes a girl,” and there is no question that Vassar made a lasting impression on the writer and helped shape her sharp eye and serpent tongue.
Born on June 21, 1912, in Seattle, Washington, Mary McCarthy was the first of four children. In 1918, at the height of the influenza epidemic, the family moved from Seattle to Minneapolis. One week after arriving, Mary’s mother, Therese Preston McCarthy, died from influenza, the following day her father, Roy Winfield McCarthy, died from the disease.
After their parents’ death, the McCarthy siblings went to live with their grandmother’s sister Margaret and her husband, Myers Shriver. The Shrivers were physically and mentally abusive to the children, as McCarthy documented in her 1957 memoir, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. In the book she describes her great aunt’s “totalitarian” regime and Myers Shriver’s cruelty :
“We were put to bed at night with our mouths sealed with adhesive tape to prevent mouth-breathing; ether, which made me sick, was used to help pull the tape off in the morning . . . our pillows were taken away from us; we were given a sulphur-and-molasses spring tonic, and in the winter, on Saturdays and Sundays, we were made to stay out three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon, regardless of the temperature.”
In 1923 McCarthy’s grandfather, Harold Preston, a well-known lawyer, intervened, sending Mary’s brothers Kevin and Preston to a Catholic boarding school in Minneapolis, and bringing Mary back to Seattle where she, too, went to a Catholic boarding school. Mary’s youngest sibling, Sheridan, remained in the care of the Shrivers.
Living with the Prestons, McCarthy developed a love for literature, as biographer Barbara McKenzie explains: “Myers seldom read . . . but in Harold Preston’s library, Mary McCarthy discovered sets of Dickens, Frank Stockton, Tolstoy, Bret Harte, and Bulwer-Lytton.” Mary also developed a love for acting, which she thought she might pursue professionally.
Graduating at the top of her class from the Annie Wright Seminary in Seattle in 1929, at the encouragement of her English teacher, Dorothy Atkinson ’23, McCarthy enrolled at Vassar College. Thus began a lifelong relationship with Vassar that was one of the defining characteristics of both her personal and her professional life. McCarthy’s most famous novel, The Group, was loosely based on her social circle in her years at Vassar, and her articles and other books often have some reference to Vassar.
It could be argued that McCarthy got her edge while an undergraduate at Vassar, where, along with Elizabeth Bishop, Muriel Rukeyser, Eleanor and Eunice Clark—all, later in life, authors—she founded the radical literary magazine Con Spirito.
Classmate Jean Anderson'33 cast Mary in one of her cartoons.
In an interview with Vassar historian Elizabeth Daniels ‘41 in February, 1982, McCarthy explained that Con Spirito “grew out of dissatisfaction with The Vassar Review which was a most colorless and sort of status, established publication . . . we were in rebellion” McCarthy and her co-conspirators advertised the new publication by putting posters in the trees, evoking what McCarthy recalled as a “general reaction of shock and horror.”
In addition to Con Spirito, McCarthy also contributed to The Sampler, a collection in 1929 of work from Vassar English classes, and The Vassar Journal of Undergraduate Studies. Identified in The Miscellany News between April 1932 and her graduation as one of the four students designated as “star reporters,” she praised the art exhibit in Rockefeller Hall presented by Professor Mathilde Monnier’s French class in the spring of 1932.
Mary's picture in the 1933 Vassarion
Another review assessed a revival of the mid-19th century melodrama, Fifteen Years of a Drunkard’s Life, conceived and directed by Christine Ramsey ’29 and classics Professor Phillip Davis for Founder’s Day in 1932. Davis had described their work to McCarthy as not “a logical story.” “And why not?” Mary asked her readers, “Founder’s Day is, by tradition, an illogical day.” She was even less forgiving in her review, in April 1933, of a production of Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance, finding fault more with the author than with the production: “It is unfortunate that it was a play of no importance.”
In 1933, on her 21st birthday and one week after graduating from Vassar, McCarthy married Harald Johnsrud, an actor whom she had met in Seattle the summer before coming to Vassar when studying acting at the Cornish School. Johnsrud discouraged Mary from pursuing acting, an interaction she later fictionalized with the characters Kay and Harald in The Group.
McCarthy’s writing career began with book reviews for The New Republic and The Nation. She had herself become disheartened with fiction writing while at Vassar, and that the creative writing courses she took “immobilized me for some time as a writing person. I quit. I mean quit trying to write ‘creatively.’ Maybe it was all for the best, and writing reviews and criticism, which I did, was more useful. But the courses were a waste of time; I might have been studying Economics or Anglo-Saxon instead.” Straightaway she started to make a name for herself with her quick wit and serpent’s tongue. Both The Nation and The New Republic were left-leaning, and McCarthy, a self-proclaimed “royalist,” had frequent disagreements with her editors. But as another biographer, Frances Kiernan, explains, “It was the Communist Party that provided entrée at a significant number of publishing houses and magazines. Radical politics made good business sense.” And so McCarthy and Johnsrud played the role of leftists. In 1953’s “My Confession,” McCarthy described this period:
“Through our professional connections, [Johnsrud and I] began to take part in a left-wing life, to which we felt superior, which we laughed at, but which nevertheless was influencing us without our being aware of it…We wore our rue with difference; we should never have considered joining the Communist Party. We were not even fellow-travelers; we did not sign petitions or join ‘front’ groups. We were not fools, after all.”
On the surface McCarthy kept her contempt of Communism to herself, but by the late 1930s she had become a vocal critic of Soviet-style communism, and in the 1940s and ‘50s was one of the loudest among the few critics of both Communism and McCarthyism.
In 1936, at a dance at Webster Hall, McCarthy’s Vassar classmate Eunice Clark introduced her to John Porter, with whom McCarthy immediately started an affair. Their relationship was short-lived, and before the year’s end she had become bored with Porter, left Johnsrud and had a notorious fling with a man she met on a train.
In 1937, McCarthy began a job as an editorial assistant for the leftist publishing house Covici-Friede. By spring, she was living with Philip Rahv, with whom, as drama editor and critic, she helped revive the literary journal, Partisan Review, which had been founded in 1934 by Rahv and his brother William. In the fall of 1937 the two Partisan Review editors asked the prominent literary critic Edmund Wilson to write a piece for their magazine. McCarthy, who had met Wilson when he lectured at Vassar, was attracted to the famous writer, and the two quickly began an affair. In 1938 they were married, and shortly thereafter McCarthy gave birth to her only child, Reuel Wilson.
It was Wilson who convinced McCarthy to start writing fiction again, as she explained to an interviewer in 1961 from Paris Review:
“After we’d been married about a week, he said, ‘I think you have a talent for writing fiction.’ And he put me in a little room. He didn’t literally lock the door, but he said, ‘Stay in there!’ And I did. I just sat down, and it just came. It was the first story I had ever written, really.”
The first story to come out of McCarthy’s room, “Cruel and Barbarous Treatment,” appeared in the Southern Review in the spring of 1939, and later became the first chapter of McCarthy’s first novel, The Company She Keeps, published in 1942. “She could not bear to hurt her husband,” the story begins, “She impressed this on the Young Man, on her confidantes, and finally on her husband himself.”
McCarthy’s marriage to Wilson was combative from the start. Wilson was “addicted to drink,” she recalled, and was often violent towards her: “After I became pregnant he began beating me with his fists, he would kick me out of bed and again when I was on the floor. A short time before our son was born he knocked me down in the kitchen and kicked me in the stomach.” McCarthy divorced Wilson in 1945 and moved to Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where, not far north of Vassar, she taught literature at Bard College.
During her first year at Bard, McCarthy met and fell in love with Bowden Broadwater, a writer for The New Yorker and a contributor to Parisian Review. A few months later, on December 18, 1946, Mary and Broadwater were married. McCarthy’s marriage to Broadwater marked the start of the most prolific period in her career. In addition to teaching English at Sarah Lawrence College for a semester in 1948 and continuing at Bard one semester a year, McCarthy published eight books between 1949 and 1961. She also contributed articles to various periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Harper's and Partisan Review. McCarthy was a Guggenheim fellow in 1949-1950 and again in 1959-1960.
As part of a series on the college experience, Holiday magazine, contracted Mary McCarthy in the fall of 1949 to write an article comparing the current Vassar to the Vassar of the 1930s. The finished product, “The Vassar Girl,” published in the May 1951 issue of the magazine, opened with a flourish:
“Like Athena, goddess of wisdom, Vassar College sprang in full battle dress from the head of a man. Incorporated at Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1861, the year of Lincoln’s inauguration and the emancipation of the serfs in Russia, it was the first woman’s college to be conceived as an idea, a manifesto, a declaration of rights, and a proclamation of equality.”
McCarthy started off well enough, writing that “the essence of Vassar is mythic…it still figures in the public mind as the archetypal woman’s college…[and has] a peculiar power of conveying a sense of excellence.” The kind words were short lived, however, as the majority of the article focused on what McCarthy believed to be the deteriorating state of her once great college. McCarthy painted the current Vassar girl as a pseudo radical, asserting “the average Vassar graduate had two-plus children and was married to a Republican lawyer,” adding, “Vassar graduates are unhappy and frustrated because college did not prepare them for a life of dishwashing and babies.” Continuing in this vein, McCarthy declared:“There has been a leveling-off in the Vassar geography of what was once a series of ranges, peaks, and valleys, so that Vassar, formerly known for the extremities of her climate, is now a moderate plateau.The vivid and extraordinary student, familiar to the old teachers and the alumnae, is, at least temporarily, absent from the scene.
Mary ca. 1930 in the ranges, peaks and valleys.
The idea of excellence, the zest for adventure, the fastidiousness of mind and humanistic breadth of feeling…seem somehow to have abandoned the college.” McCarthy’s harshest criticism was saved for the faculty, however, and she wrote with particular venom when speaking of president Sarah Blanding, stating: “The choice of Miss Blanding a few years ago seems on the surface a victory for feminism, but at bottom it is probably a defeat. The old humanistic curriculum…is slowly yielding to “education-for-living,” as literature and the arts give way to the social sciences, and “pure” scholarship cedes to preparation for civic life and marriage.”
McCarthy went on to say that the quality of professors had dramatically weakened since her time at Vassar, a problem that McCarthy attributed to the insufficient salaries that Vassar was offering its professors. She found the current professors lacking “a certain largeness of mind, an amplitude of style, the mantle of a calling, a sense of historical dignity.”
The angry response to McCarthy’s article from the Vassar community had begun in 1949 when McCarthy’s request to spend a week at Vassar for research for her article initiated a correspondence with Joan Michaels, the director of the college’s Office of Public Relations. Responding in November 1949 to a first draft of the article sent to her, Michaels wrote:
“About all I can say is that although fascinated by your article, I am scarcely enamored of it. . . . That your piece will convey to any of its readers a warm feeling for Vassar seems most unlikely.”
In earlier versions of the article, McCarthy charged Vassar with being fearful of being considered Communist. This fear, McCarthy said, had contributed to the intellectual plateau in the modern Vassar. Michaels denied this claim, and McCarthy replied on December 15, 1949:
“I do think that the fear of being considered Communist is an unfortunate thing at Vassar; it shows lack of assurance that can let the college in for all sorts of official timidities and suppressions. Unless I’m mistaken, that sort of uneasiness could not have prevailed in the old days and I’ve seen nothing like it recently in the only colleges I am familiar with, Harvard, Bard, and even Sarah Lawrence, which really has something to fear. . . . At Vassar everyone was nervous at the very mention of the topic. This is connected with the loss of élan that, believe me, is very evident in the current Vassar mood.”
Joan Michaels expressed her resentment of McCarthy’s article in letters to colleagues, President Blanding, McCarthy and to the editor of Holiday. And in a series of letters to Mrs. Clifford Sellers Henderson ’18, the president of the alumnae association, she considered ways to deal with the article, such as convincing the editors of Holiday to allow President Blanding to edit the article to Vassar’s liking or writing a letter to Curtis Publishing Company, Holiday’s publisher, asking that the article be shelved indefinitely. In a more pessimistic, satiric mood, Michaels conceded that the time for altogether solving the problem had long since passed, writing:
“Personally, I think we muffed the only possible solution—arsenic in Mary McCarthy’s beer during that week she lived at Alumnae House.”
On May 1, 1950 McCarthy sent Michaels the revised version of her article, which included an expanded section on alumnae. Michaels’s notes on her copy of the article indicate the depth of her frustration:
“I have been fascinated—that’s not the word—horrified to read this article. I think it stinks 100 times worse than the other one. . . . I think she lies about the alumnae over and over . . . . Every student in Vassar college is going to read this article and I cannot think of a surer and quicker way to kill our business . . . . I think it is the most warped and untrue picture of the alumnae: of the alumnae-college relationship that could possibly be presented.”
In January of 1951, Joan Michaels went to Philadelphia to meet with the editors of Holiday hoping to persuade them to make changes in McCarthy’s article. McCarthy, Michaels told the editors, had made-up statistics about the alumnae being unhappy; her description of the college was entirely inaccurate; and her “point of view appears to be colored…by her own distinct and rather unusual personality” rather than by facts. Initially, Michael’s plea did appear to work. In a letter to Harry Sions, a senior editor of Holiday, McCarthy accused the editors of yielding to pressure from Vassar and deleting the portions of her article that were targeted by Joan Michaels.
The letter addressed each issue, providing evidence that led to her conclusions. The “statistical unhappiness” and alumnae pressure to change the college direction, McCarthy wrote, “can be verified all over the Alumna magazine . . . . I was present at an Alumnae Council meeting where various strident mothers got up and repeatedly made the point that the college had been too scholarly, not ‘creative’ enough, too much reading, not enough ‘self-expression’ in arts and crafts, the short story, radio-writings, etc. . . . The Alumnae magazine takes infinite pleasure in photographing faculty with their young children, giving the impression that it is a sort of breeding pen.”
Next, McCarthy defended her harsh criticisms of the faculty, stating: “The faculty has gone down the hill. The situation is far worse than I say. The average-teacher at present is a sot of female potato-sack, physically and mentally. The men are twerps and the women are well-intentioned drudges, except for a few dynamos like Mrs. [Dorothea Demetrocopoulou] [‘27] . . . there is no one there of any real attainment or authority as poet, critic, historian, social scientist.”
The article went to print with all of the changes Michaels had fought for changed back to the way McCarthy had written them, and the college never directly addressed the McCarthy article. Two articles appeared in the Vassar Quarterly, however. “What Are Vassar Girls Made Of?” written by Gertrude Garnsey ’26, appeared in the February 1951 issue, and “What Do You Think About Vassar?” written by Marie Jahoda of the Research Center for Human Relations at New York University, appeared in the June, 1951 issue. Both articles used the 1949 questionnaire sent out by the alumnae association, the same source McCarthy used for “The Vassar Girl.” Although Garnsey and Jahoda included the negative results from the questionnaire, they focused on what was being done to rectify the issues raised by the questionnaire, and overall painted the current Vassar alumna and current student as well-adjusted, intelligent, well-rounded individuals.
Meanwhile, McCarthy turned her attention away from Vassar, traveling the world to give lectures throughout much of the 1950s. A lecture tour in 1959 found her in Poland, where she met and fell in love with James West, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and director of the Embassy's branch of the United States Information Agency. West and McCarthy divorced their respective partners in 1960 and were married in April of 1961.
In 1963 McCarthy published her most famous novel, The Group, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years. Sold in 23 countries, including Iceland and Japan, the novel contains characters and events drawn directly from McCarthy’s life. The group of women in the book graduated from Vassar in 1933, as McCarthy had, and both McCarthy and the main character, Kay Leiland Strong, studied literature, married an actor named Harald a week after graduating, divorced him after a brief, bad marriage riddled with affairs, and worked in journalism. The book was popular with critics and the public, but McCarthy’s Vassar classmates criticized her portrayal of them as unsophisticated, rich and lazy. McCarthy insisted, however, that although she and Kay shared many of the same traits, Kay was not her alter ego, rather “one of the author’s bad dreams of herself.”
Likewise, although McCarthy admitted she loosely based her characters after girls she knew at Vassar, she maintained that her novel and the details of her characters’ lives were mostly fictional. In a letter written to Ingelog Hallden, a Swedish student who assigned to write on the autobiographical elements in her novels, McCarthy explained:
“To be truthful, I find the assignment you’ve been given absurd and impossible. How can anybody . . . know what is autobiographical and what is not in The Company She Keeps and The Group? Even I in many cases would have a hard time sorting it out. Fiction in my experience is a mixture of the autobiographical, the observed, and the imagined. . .none of the girls [in The Group] are me and none of the fathers are mine.”
McCarthy had labored on The Group for eleven years, giving up on it for years at a time before returning to it, only to grow frustrated with it and shelve it again. Her persistence paid off, however, as The Group’s success made McCarthy rich and cemented her place in the literary establishment.
In her unpublished notes for The Group, McCarthy describes her vision of the novel:
“To make it a woman’s book, through and through, would be perhaps of the greatest interest; this has never been done, consciously, though often accidentally . . . . The man’s world, of history and politics, could appear as the rowdy caricature it is when parodied in women’s conception of it. Here too a certain pathos can be seen, for women, many of them, are really lost in the man’s realm of idea’s, where they are trying to live . . . . But this does seem to exclude the idea of a valiant heroine, like, say Elizabeth Hardwick – a girl who can think . . . . Thus the book ought to stay somewhere in the comic-satiric, or comic-pathetic mode.”
Following the success of The Group, McCarthy and her husband delighted in a busy social life together, maintaining friendships with prominent writers such as Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Gore Vidal and Vladimir Nabokov. The couple divided their time between Paris and their home in Castine, Maine.
In March 1966 McCarthy and West traveled to South Vietnam. An ardent opponent of the Vietnam War, she initially turned down a request from Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, to write about her time in Vietnam because she didn’t want her remonstrations to compromise West’s position as a diplomat. As the United States presence in Vietnam escalated, however, McCarthy could no longer remain silent. Her first article about her time in Saigon appeared in the February 1967 issue, and a subsequent trip to Hanoi produced a series of articles. McCarthy published the articles on Vietnam later in Vietnam (1967).
In an article about McCarthy’s work on Vietnam, historian Sabrina Fuchs-Abrams notes:
“McCarthy’s critique of the American presence in Vietnam centers in part on the use of language. Rather than blaming the military for the U.S. presence in Vietnam – they are simply doing their job, she notes – McCarthy’s harshest critique is directed against the American policy makers, in particular the liberal intelligentsia who have become part of the political machine. It is the intellectuals and experts, with their equivocal language and their hedging policies for “limited war” and “Vietnamization,” against whom McCarthy directs her attack.”
McCarthy began her first article with characteristic candor: “I confess that when I went to Vietnam early last February I was looking for material damaging to the American interest and that I found it.” In addition to criticizing liberals at home for their use of euphemisms, McCarthy charged the U.S. military with corruption and called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam.
The response to the book was largely negative, with critics lamenting that McCarthy had “oversimplified” the situation and accusing her of being “intellectually irresponsible” by “ignoring the existence of millions of non-Communist South Vietnamese who may be in jeopardy after American withdrawal.”
Despite the animosity generated by the “Vassar Girl” controversy, and then by The Group, McCarthy’s alma mater invited her back to the campus a half-dozen times throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. In 1971 the Associate Alumnae/i of Vassar College celebrated its centennial, and part of the celebration included hosting a weeklong symposium during the week of October 24-29. McCarthy was one of 38 distinguished alumnae asked to lead discussions, attend classes and meet informally with students and faculty. The entire lecture series was extremely popular, but, as an article in The New York Times explained, “only the promise of hearing Miss McCarthy could fill the 1500 seat chapel.”
A minor controversy followed McCarthy’s visit when Dale Mezzacappa ‘72 interviewed McCarthy for the Miscellany News and sent a copy of her article to the New York Times, which, in the mind of both McCarthy and Mezzacappa, misquoted McCarthy and took her statements out of context. In particular, the Times article stated that McCarthy had said that the writing classes she took at Vassar made her style “retrogress,” a charge that McCarthy denied. For the most part, however, the visit was successful, and Mezzacappa quoted McCarthy as saying:
“The New Vassar is more like the Old Vassar of the Thirties, when I was here, than it is like the Middle Vassar of the Fifties…[the New Vassar] students are better than average, more alive, more in touch with things.”
McCarthy again returned to Vassar in 1976, to give the commencement address. Speaking on “What to do with a Vassar Education,” McCarthy posited that, graduating during the height of The Great Depression, hers was really the first graduating class that had to put their Vassar degrees to practical use.
Mary McCarthy returned once again to Vassar in February 1982 as Vassar's first President’s Distinguished Visitor in a program created by President Virginia Smith. A large gathering of students and faculty crowded the Villard to room to hear McCarthy read from her books and discuss writing.
The President's Distinguished Visitor, with students, in 1982.
Peggy Hayes ’83 succinctly summed up the busy, weeklong residence in the Miscellany News: “Fifty-three years after her entrance to Vassar in September of 1929, McCarthy came back, an established and well-known writer. . . . She talked to us about writing, and she talked to us about what the novel talks about, the ‘experience we have in common’; she talked to us about Vassar.”
In 1985, a year after she had received both the MacDowell Medal for Literature and the National Medal for Literature, McCarthy came back to Vassar to attend a ceremony celebrating the college’s acquisition of her personal and professional papers. When asked why she agreed that her papers come to Vassar, McCarthy replied:
“There is something very personal involved, as though the ‘private’ in private papers couldn’t be shed. So what one wants is a kind of almost protective family environment. I suppose Vassar is a family to me.”
In 1987 she accepted an invitation to Vassar for a book signing party celebrating the release of her autobiography How I Grew. In front of an audience of hundreds McCarthy read a passage from her book about Vassar’s influence:
“A great deal of education consists of un-learning – the breaking of bad habits as with a tennis serve. This was emphatically true of a Vassar education: where other colleges aimed at development, bringing out what was already there like a seed waiting to sprout, Vassar remade a girl. Vassar was transformational. No girl, it was felt, could be the same after [Anna] Kitchel’s English or [Helen] Sandison’s Shakespeare, to say nothing of [Helen] Lockwood’s press.”
On September 29, 1988, in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Group, McCarthy returned to Vassar one last time to read a chapter from her most famous book. She read the entirety of chapter six to a packed room. An article from the Miscellany described the evening as such, “The capacity audience of students, faculty, and alumnae laughed and even burst into applause. McCarthy received a standing ovation from the many people present.” Despite the positive reception, McCarthy later said of The Group: “I would have to say it’s my most embarrassing work. I’d rather be remembered for Memories of a Catholic Girlhood or Birds of America.”
A little after a year later, on October 25, 1989, Mary McCarthy died from lung cancer at the age of 77. A prolific writer to the very end, she was working on the second volume of her autobiography when she died. Intellectual Memoirs: New York, 1936-1938 was published posthumously in 1992.
On November 8, 1989 a memorial service was held for McCarthy at the Pierpont Morgan Library. The historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said of McCarthy in The New York Times: ''[she had an] absolute fidelity to her own exacting standards,'' recalling her judgment of a piece of his early writing as ''pre-Raphaelite.'' She was, he added, ''a sublime mix of astringency and tenderness.''
It is a testament to her character, talent and influence that even today, 84 years after she graduated, McCarthy is regarded as one of the most intriguing, important, and respected graduates of Vassar College.
Kiernan, Frances, Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy, (W.W. Norton & Company), 2000.
McCarthy, Mary, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc), 1951.
McCarthy, Mary, “My Confession” from On the Contrary, (New York, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy), 1961.
McCarthy, Mary, “The Vassar Girl” from On the Contrary, (New York, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy), 1961.
McCarthy, Mary, The Group, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson), 1963.
McCarthy, Mary, Vietnam, (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc), 1967.
McCarthy, Mary, How I Grew, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), 1987.
McKenzie, Barbara, Mary McCarthy, (Twayne Publishers, Inc), 1966.
Kakutani ,Michiko, “Our Woman of Letters,” The New York Times Magazine, March 29, 1987.
Dunning, Jennifer, “In Friends' Words and Her Own, Mary McCarthy Is Remembered,” The New York Times, November 8, 1989.
Fuchs-Abrams, Sabrina. “Women On War: Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, and Diana Trilling Debate the Vietnam War.” Women’s Studies, 37, (2008),987-1007.
The Miscellany News, April 12, 1933; April 26, 1933; May 4, 1932; March 4, 1933; June 14, 1933; February 19, 1982; September 20, 1985; October 1988.
Vassar Alumnae Magazine, February 1951; June 1951.
Vassar Quarterly, Spring 1982; Spring 1990.
Daniels, Elizabeth, “Informal Conversation Between Mary McCarthy & Elizabeth A. Daniels, February 12, 1982”
Vassar College Special Collections (VCSC), Mary McCarthy Papers.
EMS 2007, BC, CJ,2017