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Curtiss, Mina Kirstein

Mina Kirstein Curtiss

Mina Kirstein was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1896 and spent her childhood growing up in Rochester, New York, with her parents, Louis E Kirstein, a merchant, her mother Rose Stein and brothers Lincoln and George Kirstein. In 1912 the family returned to Boston where her father was the director of Filene’s department store. Mina was educated at home, continued her studies at Smith College where in 1918 she received a B.A. In 1920 she was awarded the M.A. from Columbia University. She returned to Smith College to teach English and remained here until 1934. Between 1935 and 1938 she worked for the Mercury Theatre of the Air in New York City, with Orson Welles and John Houseman, as a researcher and promoter of the theatre. She continued to write throughout her career, publishing a book about her marriage and the early death of her husband, Henry Tomlinson Curtiss in 1927 called The Midst of Life. She wrote several radio programs in the 1930s, translated Proust, and wrote a biography of Georges Bizet in the 1940s. A visit to Russia in 1962 resulted in a biography of the Russian ballerina Anna Ivanovna. In the 1970s she wrote Other People’s Letters: A Memoir which chronicled her interest in Proust. She supplemented her craft of writing with book reviews and editorials for newspapers. She returned to teach at Smith College in the early 1940s, then again as a visiting lecturer, giving courses in the art of biography.

Mina Kirstein Curtiss was 89 years old when she died in Bridgeport, Connecticut on October 31, 1985 after a long illness. She lived a long and productive life, as is evidenced by her teaching and publications.

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