Celebrate the life and work of Carson McCullers

The folks at the Smith-McCullers House, home of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, celebrate the life of the Southern Gothic writer this weekend.

If she was still living, Sunday would mark the author’s 95th birthday.

The celebration is set for Friday and Saturday.

No matter how far away from Columbus she lived, her Southern roots showed, especially in her writing.

McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith on Feb. 19, 1917, in Columbus and died on Sept. 29, 1967, in Nyack, N.Y. When she was 18, she worked at the Columbus Ledger during the summer of 1935.

Friday, a birthday party will be held at the Center, 1519 Stark Ave. (on the street behind the Chick-Fil-A on Wynnton Road).

The celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. with cake. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who shares her birthday with McCullers, will cut the cake.

“I’m quite honored,” Tomlinson said of sharing a birthday with someone who had such an “incredible literary career.”

Tomlinson, who turns 47 Sunday, said McCullers wrote a lot about “character to the south” in her work.

Friday’s birthday celebration will last until about 8 p.m.

The Columbus Public Library hosts several events on Saturday. Those events will revolve around “February House: The Story of W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee Under One Roof in Wartime America,” written by Sherill Tippins. She participated in the library’s Big Read event that focused on “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

A musical based on “February House,” is being staged at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn., through March 18. It is also part of the New York Public Theatre’s 2011-12 season and can be seen May 8-June 10.

A non-musical version has been optioned by the National Theatre of London.

February House was a falling-down Brooklyn boardinghouse that became a kind of commune where people like editor George Davis, McCullers, composer Britten, poet Auden, novelist Richard Wright and the burlesque star Lee, lived during World War II.

Unfortunately, that house no longer exists, said McCullers Center’s interim director Courtney George.

Events at the library kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday when Columbus State University English professor and poet Nick Norwood reads poems by Auden.

“Lady of Burlesque,” a movie based on Lee’s “G-String Murders,” can be seen at 3 p.m.

At 5 p.m., former McCullers Center director Cathy Fussell reads selections from “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” which was published during the time when McCullers lived in February House.

At 7:30 p.m. Tippins will talk about her book.

All the events are free.

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