Writer Susan Fromberg Schaeffer has died

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, a writer recognized for both her fiction and poetry, has died in Chicago. She was 71.

Schaeffer was the author of more than two dozen novels, including ‘Buffalo Afternoon,’ ‘The Madness of a Seduced Woman,’ and ‘Falling.’ She was a finalist for the 1975 National Book Award in poetry for ‘Granite Lady’ and three times won the O. Henry Award for short fiction, in 1978, 1997 and 2006. She had also published two children’s books.


Born in New York, Fromberg Schaeffer attended the University of Chicago for undergraduate and graduate degrees. She then moved back to New York, where she taught writing at Brooklyn College for many years, and was a mentor, among others, to Sapphire, author of ‘Push’ and ‘The Kid.’

Fromberg Schaeffer and her husband Neal Schaeffer moved to Chicago in 2002, where she was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

‘I loved watching her process of creativity,’ Neal Schaeffer told the Chicago Tribune. ‘She would spend years on a book, distilling it, and when she sat down to write, she said it was like watching a movie. It was all there. It came out fully formed.’

Fromberg Schaeffer suffered a stroke 2 1/2 years ago and stepped down from teaching. Her husband said that she had never regained mobility or speech, and she was felled by a second stroke.

-- Carolyn Kellogg