Carson McCullers Short Stories

Carson McCullers was an American author, probably best known for her debut novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. She also wrote many short stories that continue to show up in anthologies. Many of her works are set in the Deep South, and they’re often considered Southern Gothic. Here are some Carson McCullers short stories to consider.

Carson McCullers Short Stories

“The Ballad of the Sad Café”

Miss Amelia is a rich woman, having inherited a store from her father. She also operates a still that produces the best liquor in the county. She’s solitary, and most of her days are the same, apart from a ten-day stretch when she was married. Things change when Miss Amelia is thirty. Late one night, a hunchbacked stranger, barely over four feet tall, comes to her store. He says he’s looking for Miss Amelia because they’re related. He sits on the steps and cries. The few onlookers have no doubt Miss Amelia will run this stranger off her property and out of town.

Some of this novella can be read in the preview of The Ballad of the Sad Café: And Other Stories(18% into preview)

“The Haunted Boy”

Hugh, a high school student, comes home from school one day with his friend John. He calls out to his mother, but there’s no answer. John notices that Hugh is worried and asks him about it. Hugh gives some background on his mother.

“The Jockey”

A horse trainer, a bookie, and a rich man are eating at a restaurant when they see a jockey enter–the jockey who rides a horse owned by the rich man. They think he’s crazy or that he won’t last in the business due to an incident that happened six months before. The jockey confronts them about it.

“Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland”

Mr. Brook, head of the music department at a New York college, hires Madame Zilensky, a composer and teacher. She’s a bit shabby, and her sons are unusual, but her work is excellent. She and Mr. Brook are quite different.

“A Domestic Dilemma”

Martin takes the first express bus home from work on a Thursday. The maid only works a half-day so he likes to get home as soon as he can. His wife hasn’t been well for some time. When he gets in, the children don’t notice at first, being busy with their playing. Martin finds there’s been another incident, this time with supper.

“A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud”

When a boy stops for a break on his paper route, an older man says he loves him. He then tells him the story of a woman he married who later left him. He explains how he has coped with it.

Read “A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud”


Frances, fifteen, arrives at the home of her piano instructor, Mr. Bilderbach. She is nervous; her playing has deteriorated lately. She has her lesson, and thinks about her history with her instructor, recent events that worry her, and her hopes and concerns.

Read “Wunderkind”

I’ll keep adding Carson McCullers short stories as I find more.