Author and professor, Alison Lurie, 94, died on Dec. 3 of natural causes. She is survived by her sons John Bishop, of Nashua, New Hampshire; Jeremy Bishop, of Hood River, Oregon; and Joshua Bishop of Sidney, Australia; also by her sister, Jennifer Cooke, of New York, NY, and three grandchildren. Her partner and husband of 45 years, Edward Hower, also survives her.
She was born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, NY. She graduated with a BA with honors from Radcliff College in 1947, when she married her first husband, Professor Jonathan Bishop, the father of her sons.
Alison was the author of eleven novels; two memoirs; a book of stories, Women and Ghosts; and numerous non-fiction books. Among her awards were the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Foreign Affairs, and the Prix Femina Étranger in France for her novel The Truth About Lorin Jones. In the UK, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University.
She was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and served as the New York State Writer. Many Ithacans were sure that she had written about them as characters in her 1974 novel, The War Between the Tates, set at an imaginary college resembling Cornell. Her last book, Words and Worlds, was published when she was 93.
For over 40 years Alison was a beloved professor of English at Cornell, where she initiated courses in Folklore and Children’s Literature. In 1989 she was named the F. J. Whiton Professor of American Literature at Cornell and upon retirement, professor emerita. Her former writing students kept in touch with her for years, came to lunch whenever they returned to Ithaca, and sent her books she had encouraged them to write.
She and Edward taught many creative writing seminars together in the US, England, Greece, and India. As a guest in Edward’s writing classes at Auburn prison, she was a big hit talking about her best-seller, The Language of Clothes.
She loved folk music and Mozart, and enjoyed country-western concerts at upstate county fairs. Alison often said how lucky she was to have such very good Ithaca friends. There will be no funeral; a memorial event will be announced. Friends can make gifts in her memory to organizations she supported, the Finger Lakes Land Trust and Ithaca Neighborhood Housing.