Clairene Lenora Allen Myers was born on February 11, 1896, in Rockdale, Texas. Her parents were Susan Allen Myers and Coren Lee Myers , a principal at Troy High School in Troy, Texas. The family later moved to Temple, Texas, where Clairene and her older brother, Coren Douglas, would grow up and eventually graduate from Temple High School.
Upon Clairene's high school graduation in 1913, she enrolled in the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman's University ) in Denton. Clairene's desire was to study philosophy and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin but her father believed that it was in her best interest to major in Domestic Science so that she could learn how to cook and sew. She adapted well to her father's choice; she became an active student, participating in both literary and dramatic projects. In 1916, she was graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Domestic Science.
Because she "wanted to save the world overnight," she took a job as a social worker in an Alabama mining camp after she graduated from CIA. Her parents were not pleased that their daughter would be a part of the working class, so she was disinherited (interview by Kenneth Ring , 1979). Clairene's responsibilities at the camp were teaching the women how to cook and sew and teaching kindergarten.
In 1918, Clairene joined a commune in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia planned by Leo Saidla, who became her common law husband. The marriage was never consummated, and the commune proved to be unsuccessful.
Throughout the 1920s, Claire, as she was now called, lived in New York City, where she worked in bookshops, wrote reviews for Publisher's Weekly, and socialized with noteworthy published authors.
In 1931, Claire married George Wanders, a financial columnist for the New York Herald Tribune. Problems with the marriage began to surface just months after the ceremony. After much letter writing, the couple concluded that the marriage could not be saved. It was not until May 1936, however, that Claire went to Reno, Nevada, for a divorce.
Throughout the ordeal of the dissolution of her marriage, Claire continued to write and to have her work published. In 1935, her first book, The Unpredictable Adventure, was published under the pen name of Claire Myers Spotswood, an old family name. When this novel was republished in 1992, the Syracuse University Press issued the following statement:
"It brilliantly satirizes contemporary cultural norms and demonstrates the hazards awaiting a woman who dares to think and act in defiance of the gendered roles assigned her. [It was] considered 'too risqué' and therefore banned by the New York Public Library ... Rather than positing a utopian world, the author of this allegorical tale questions male authority in ways that anticipate contemporary concerns." (Syracuse University Press, 1992)
In 1937, Claire married Harry Thurston Owens, a prominent banker. The couple moved to a large house in New Haven, Connecticut. Although Claire participated in the New Haven social scene, she wrote one colleague that she found the city "intellectually unstimulating." Nevertheless, Claire continued to write novels, poetry, essays, and short stories, but little of her work reached publication. During the 1940s, however, she had her own column in Today's Woman magazine.
In 1949, Claire experienced a spiritual awakening that would change the course of her life. Trying to make sense of her experience, Claire began to study psychology, particularly the work of C.G. Jung . In 1958, she described her spiritual awakening in her second published book, Awakening to the Good. In 1963, she published another book with a similar theme, Discovery of the Self. Her work was praised by prominent psychologists and philosophers who were pioneers in the human potential movement such as Abraham Maslow, C.G. Jung, F.S.C. Northrop, Aldous Huxley, and Anthony Sutich. Claire had become immersed in this new branch of psychology (human potential or transpersonal psychology) and soon had many of her articles published.
Claire's husband, Harry Thurston Owens, died on June 27, 1969. Shortly after his death, Claire studied Zen Buddhism in order to induce spiritual enlightenment. She invited Yale University students who were similarly interested in Zen Buddhism to meditate with her in her home. One of those students convinced Claire to move to Rochester, New York, and become a member of the Zen Center, whose spiritual leader was Philip Kapleau. Soon after Claire received instruction in Zen Buddhism, Kapleau encouraged her to write on the subject. Kapleau often reviewed her work, and occasionally there were disputes regarding content.
In 1979, Claire's last book, Zen and the Lady, was published. In it she describes her seven-year spiritual path which, "in Zen Buddhism, is directed toward an enlightenment experience and its integration with the devotee's everyday life" (Audrey McK. Fernandez, personal communication, September 19, 1992). The book was a success which resulted in both radio and television interviews.
Claire, who claimed she was "the happiest person she ever met," died peacefully on May 7, 1983, at the age of 87 years. Up until that time of her death, she was working on a new manuscript entitled Mediation and the Lady. Lacking only is an introduction and a concluding chapter.