Eugene Mirabelli (Gene) was born in 1931. He attended public schools, did manual labor in summers, went to MIT for two years, then to Harvard and received a BA there in 1952. He worked as a technical writer, taught school, tried free-lance journalism, wrote fiction, enrolled in a graduate program at Johns Hopkins and while there wrote book reviews for the Baltimore Sun and received his MA at the end of he year. Gene next entered the Harvard Graduate School and in 1958, while a graduate student, he wrote his first novel, The Burning Air. Later that year he met Margaret Anne Black, a senior at Harvard. Gene and Margaret married some months later, for by then he had completed his graduate exams, the book had been published, and Margaret had graduated.
Gene taught at Williams College for four years while writing a dissertation on William Faulkner and, now a PhD, he joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Albany where he taught American literature while Margaret Black Mirabelli, now a free-lance editor, worked for academic presses and wrote book reviews. And they had three children. Gene’s novels during this time included The Way In, No Resting Place and The World at Noon.
In his mid-sixties, Gene Mirabelli retired from the University and began writing on society, politics and economics for a raffish left-wing news weekly, while Margaret wrote book reviews for the same journal and continued her editing work. Over the years, Gene wrote The Language Nobody Speaks, The Passion of Terri Heart, The Goddess in Love with a Horse, plus Renato, the Painter.
In 2010 Renato, the Painter was completed but not yet given to the publisher when Margaret Mirabelli died of a lethally swift bacterial infection. Two years passed, after which Gene retrieved the manuscript and readied it for publication. Renato, the Painter won the first prize Gold medal given by Independent Press Awards (IPPY) for literary fiction — and a few years after that Renato After Alba won a Silver IPPY. The Goddess in Love with a Horse, Renato, the Painter and Renato After Alba, though written as stand-alone novels, are linked by characters and events, and were later reconfigured and gathered in publication entitled Renato!, an omnibus work which also won an Independent Press Award.
In 2021, the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Libraries in Albany, New York, honored Eugene Mirabelli and the writer Lydia Davis as “Literary Legends.” In years past, Gene Mirabelli won a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation as well as Faculty Fellowships from the Research Foundation of the State University of New York. He was the co-founder with one of his former students, Michael Rutherford, of Alternative Literary Programs in the Schools (ALPS), and served as a board member and treasurer for over twenty years. ALPS, a non-profit corporation, was established to bring poets and writers to the schools of New York State to give creative writing workshops.