Writer, educator. Boyd was born in Charleston on August 31, 1945, the daughter of Charles Fant McCrary and Mildred McDaniel. She attended Duke University, earned her B.A. from Pomona College in 1967, and received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, where she completed her M.A. in 1971. Boyd joined the faculty at Connecticut College in 1982. In 1988 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowship. Four years later she received the Lambda Literary Award for her novel The Revolution of Little Girls, and in 1993–1994 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Boyd has published four novels: Nerves (1973), Mourning the Death of Magic (1977), The Revolution of Little Girls (1991), and Terminal Velocity (1997). The last two are part of a trilogy telling the story of Ellen Burns, a Charleston native who experiences an unsatisfying marriage, experiments with heavy drinking and drugs, and loses herself through various affairs and lifestyle changes. Part three of the trilogy is titled “Children of Nod.” While each novel can be read on its own, Boyd explains that they are ultimately meant to be viewed together, “like transparencies that alone show complete images, but reveal a unique perspective when combined.”
Boyd’s fiction reveals a deep concern with the culture of the South. Much of her work addresses civil rights injustices or gender-identity issues within southern culture. Mourning is about three girls raised in the South during the 1950s and 1960s who are disillusioned with racism and class discrimination. Boyd’s 1981 collection of essays, The Redneck Way of Knowledge: Down-Home Tales, features autobiographical accounts of the South Carolina world she knows well. One critic described Boyd’s literary voice as “wild, original, witty, imaginative . . . the direct, buckshot explosion of a lady red-neck turned narrator.” Boyd is known for capturing both the tumult of a time period and a region’s response to such social change.
Boyd’s work has won wide recognition. The Atlanta Journal- Constitution praised The Revolution of Little Girls as “Funny . . . lively and wry, insightful and poignant. [A] psychedelic and unsettling journey into a Southern heart of darkness.” A reviewer for Publishers Weekly said that Boyd has “established a solid reputation as one of America’s most unpredictable literary outlaws.” Such attention to the more controversial issues within her writing is balanced with compliments on the craft of her fiction. Her work has also been published in periodicals such as Esquire, New York Times Magazine, Premiere, and Voice Literary Supplement. Divorced in 1971, Boyd created a life partnership with Leslie Hyman in 1999, and the couple has two children.
Cole, Clarence Bard. “The Revelations of Blanche McCrary Boyd.” Christopher Street 14 (October 1991): 11.
Gordon, Emily. “Terminal Velocity.” The Nation 265 (September 1997): 32. Schuessler, Jennifer. “Blanche McCrary Boyd: Writing Against Gravity.”
Publishers Weekly 244 ( June 1997): 64.