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Diana Trilling (1905–1996)

Author of We Must March My Darlings: A Critical Decade

Includes the names: Diana Trilling, Editor Diana Trilling

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Diana Rubin was born to emigré Polish Jews in the USA. Like her mother, Diana did not have a typical Jewish childhood. Until 1914, when they moved to Brooklyn, the family lived in Westchester County, New York, an area somewhat remote from Eastern European Jewish culture. Diana graduated from Radcliffe College. In 1929, she married Lionel Trilling, who became the first Jewish tenured professor of English at Columbia University, and had one son. The couple were members of the circle of writers and thinkers of the 1930s to the 1950s known as the New York Intellectuals. Diana Trilling's first professional ambition was to become a singer, but this was not successful. Her writing career began until 1941, when an editor of The Nation magazine asked Lionel Trilling to recommend someone to write unsigned reviews of recent fiction for the magazine, and Diana suggested herself for the job. Her reviews for The Nation, later collected under the title Reviewing the Forties (1978), examined the most important authors of the day, including Sartre, Bellow, Welty, Capote, Hersey, Maugham, Waugh, and Orwell. The Trillings were staunch anti-Communists, a position Diana wrote "was seldom far from the surface of my reviews." In 1948, Diana Trilling left the Nation to become an independent critic. Her subjects included the Oppenheimer, the Profumo and Hiss cases, Edith Wharton, and the Beat Generation, among many others. Her book Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor (1981) offered a profile of a middle-class woman on trial for murder after the first wave of 1970s feminism. Her last book was The Beginning of the Journey (1993), a chronicle of her marriage.
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