Many Americas

Doris (Isaac) Grumbach (1918-    )

Extra Innings


  • Born in 1918 in New York City.,
  • Married in 1941 to Leonard Grumbach, a physiology professor; divorced in 1972; four daughters.
  • Attended Washington Square College (A.B., 1939) and Cornell University (M.A., 1940).
  • Served in the U.S. Navy, WAVES, 1941-43.
  • Relocated from Washington, DC to rural Maine (Sargentville)  in the early 1990s with her long-time female companion, Sybil.


  • Worked as title writer, editor, and English teacher in her early years and a college professor from the late 1950s to early 1970s; did not begin writing novels until her forties.
  • Became a highly regarded literary critic and book reviewer in the 1980s writing for many national periodicals such as the New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, Nation, Commonweal, and the New Republic and appearing on NPR's "Morning Edition" and PBS's "The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour."
  • Wrote novels that are said to combine fiction innnovatively with historical, biographical, and autobiographical elements.
  • Wrote a controversial biography of novelist Mary McCarthy, The Company She Kept, which nearly involved her in a lawsuit with her subject.
  • Received the 2000 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing.

Major Writings

The Spoil of the Flowers
The Sore Throat, The Tender Mouth (1964)
Chamber Music (1979)
The Missing Person (1981)
The Ladies (1984)
The Magician's Girl (1987)
The Book of Knowledge (1995)

The Company She Kept (1967)

Coming Into the End Zone (1991)
Extra Innings: A Memoir (1993)
Fifty Days of Solitude (1994)
Life in a Day (1996)
The Pleasure of Their Company (2000)

Critical Sources and Reviews

  • Biographical and critical information in the following Gale publications: Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Volume 9; Contemporary Authors, Autobiography Series, Volume 2; and Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volumes 22 and 64.  Gale Literary Database (Contemporary Authors Online) can be accessed online through a subscribing library at   (All volumes listed above contain portraits.)
  • Other sources for biographical information:

           American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the              Present, 4 vols. Edited by Lina Mainiero. New York, 1979-1982
            The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. Edited by Claire Buck. New York,              1992.
            The Writer's Directory, 14th edition. Detroit, 1999.

  • Some reviews:
    • New York Times Book Review, November 21, 1993 ("Not Cranky; Not Grumpy; Not any of Those Things," by Kathleen Norris, available in the New York Times Books Archive)  Other Times reviews of possible interest include "Be Cranky While You Can," September 22, 1991, by Noel Perrin [of Coming Into the End Zone]; "Home Alone," October 2, 1994, by Le Anne Schreiber [of Fifty Days of Solitude]; and "The Other Rachel Carson," March 19, 1995, by Doris Grumbach [her review of Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman].
    • Washington Post Book World; October 24, 1.993
    • Women's Review of Books, December, 1993.
  • For short list of discussion questions on Extra Innings, check the Story Circle Network's website (Search: "Extra Innings")

Retired Discussion Series

Debbie Sturman, Director
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Phone: 307-334-3490
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