The University of Wisconsin Press
Autobiography / Popular Culture / Literature & Criticism
Blues of a Lifetime
The Autobiography of Cornell Woolrich
Edited by Mark T. Bassett
Blues of a Lifetime is essential reading for those interested in the suspense novelist Cornell Woolrich, author of Rear Window. His autobiography includes accounts of his working methods, Victorian family and home, memories of childhood, college experience, sexual initiation, and philosophy of life. Three topics of paramount importance to Woolrich are discussed at length in the book: writing, romance, and despair.
Because Woolrich spent much of his adult life in a hotel room he shared with his mother, his biography is difficult to re-create. Thus, this volume is a collection of five personal stories instead of a continuous narrative. Woolrich designed his autobiography as he would a short story anthology, as each “story” ends with a twist that typifies Woolrich’s best suspense fiction. The prose in Blues of a Lifetime is extraordinarily varied, and many passages in this book modulate into the haunting poetry that characterizes the author’s style.
Editor Mark T. Bassett offers readers the edited text that Woolrich himself was likely to have published one day. His editorial decisions are based on a study of the marginalia in the edited typescripts of two novels in Columbia University’s Cornell Woolrich Archives: Waltz into Darkness and Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Also included in this autobiography are an introduction and series of explanatory notes as prepared by Bassett.
Cornell George Hopley Woolrich (1903–68) published twenty-two novels and more than two-hundred short stories during his career, including a widely read “black series” of suspense novels during the 1940s. More of his work was translated into film noir than that of any other writer.
Mark T. Bassett is a scholar in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
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LC: 91-073287 PS
168 pp. 6 x 9
Paper $24.95 s
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Updated December 14, 2012© 2012, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System