Cormac McCarthy Biography


Cormac McCarthy was born Charles McCarthy (Cormac is the Gaelic version of Charles) on July 20, l933, in Providence, Rhode Island. In l937, the family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father, Charles Joseph McCarthy, was on the legal staff of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The third of six children, Cormac attended Catholic High School in Knoxville and entered the University of Tennessee in l951 as a liberal arts major. In l953, he joined the United States Air Force and served four years, spending part of that time in Alaska. He married Lee Holleman, with whom he had a son. Cormac and Lee divorced, and he married Anne de Lisle, with whom he had no children and from whom he also was divorced. He married a third time, to Jennifer Winkler, in l998, and reportedly lives with her and their child in El Paso, Texas (McCarthy is reclusive and information on him is often difficult to confirm).

McCarthy has received numerous writing awards, including the William Faulkner Foundation award in l965 for The Orchard Keeper, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, a MacArthur Foundation Grant, and the National Book Award in 1992 for All the Pretty Horses.

His published works include eight novels — The Orchard Keeper, Outer Dark, Child of God, Suttree, Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain — all published by Random House; a play in five acts called The Stonemason; and a screenplay called The Gardener's Son.

Although McCarthy guards his privacy and is not known to seek publicity, the University of Texas at El Paso has a Cormac McCarthy Society, which sponsors papers for literary conferences and holds gatherings where McCarthy's work is read and discussed. The society has a Web site at, which you can visit for more information. Scholarly attention to McCarthy has grown in the last decade, largely as a result of All the Pretty Horses, which brought him critical acclaim as well as popular appeal.