Carson McCullers reinvented herself after leaving home at age 17 to study at the Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan. Something happened to make her lose the money and she never attended the school. Instead, she worked and took night classes at university. Her published writing began to appear in 1936. She suffered throughout her life from serious illness, including rheumatic fever and several strokes. By the age of 31, her left side was completely paralyzed. Her work, usually set in the South of her birth, often focused on people seen as misfits and outcasts.