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   Dawn Powell Papers, 1890s-2007. [Bulk dates: 1890s-1965].

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Dawn Powell Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

Dawn Powell (1896-1965) was an American author of novels, plays, and short stories. The collection includes address books, appointment books, books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, ephemera, family materials, manuscripts, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, research files, reviews, scrapbooks, sketches and drawings.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4079881 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Powell, Dawn.
Title:Dawn Powell Papers, 1890s-2007. [Bulk dates: 1890s-1965].
Physical description:39 linear ft. (73 document boxes, 4 half-sized document boxes, 6 record cartons, 2 flat boxes, 1 cassette box).
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection has no restrictions. The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 5-86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two (2) business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 11 series. Selected items cataloged; remainder arranged.

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Description

Scope and Content

Dawn Powell (1896-1965) was an American author of novels, plays, and short stories. The collection includes address books, appointment books, artwork, books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, ephemera, family materials, manuscripts, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, research files, reviews, and scrapbooks.

The collection contains a great deal of correspondence, but it is scattered throughout the collection. Series I: Cataloged Correspondence was processed and arranged in the 1990s at the item level, with personal, family, and professional correspondence being arranged by name and then by date. Other correspondence was processed and arranged at the file level, and is filed in Series II: Arranged Correspondence and Series IX: Family Materials. There are also files in Series IV and Series X that include correspondence.

The papers include many manuscripts and typescripts of Powell’s published and unpublished works. These materials can be found in Series III: Manuscripts and Related Materials. Where it is known that a work has multiple titles, these are noted in the finding aid, but these notes are not exhaustive, particularly for short stories. Series III also include copies of published plays and clippings of published articles, plays, reviews, and short stories. The collection also includes copies of many of Powell’s published novels and these can be found in Series VII: Books.

Powell’s professional files in Series IV: Professional Files include general clippings files and subject files. These include articles on Powell, contracts, correspondence, financial information, programs, remarks, and reviews of Powell’s books and plays. Most subject files are related to specific projects or works. Files kept by Powell’s executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, are also filed in Series IV, and include correspondence, financial, and legal records related to her handling of the estate from the 1960s-1990s.

Powell’s personal files are also included in the collection, and include address books, appointment books, clippings on various subjects, diaries, various notes and notebooks, personal documents, school records, sketches and drawings, and travel records. There are also materials related to her family, including clippings, correspondence, journals, obituaries, photographs, school magazines, theater scrapbooks, and wills.

The collection also includes a large amount of photographs, primarily personal and professional photographs of Powell, her family, and places of residence in both New York and Ohio.

A few miscellaneous files are filed in Series X as chronological files. The materials in these files are loosely related by time period, but not to any particular personal or professional subject.

The provenance of this collection made the arrangement of the material difficult during processing. Powell’s papers were left to an executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, after Powell’s death in 1965. The papers largely came under the control of Powell's biographer, Tim Page, in the 1990s, although some boxes of additional material were received after Rice’s death in 2004. It is unclear how Powell filed and maintained her papers at this point: some material was clearly rearranged by others while other material was highly disorganized and required arrangement by the processing archivist. The source of any identifying notes and labels was unclear at the time of processing. Lastly, portions of the collection were deposited and then either donated or sold to Columbia University in several different tax years during the period of 1995-2014, and this affected how the papers were organized, processed, and maintained by the Library until processing of all collection materials was completed in 2019.

Another consequence of this history is that the collection includes correspondence and other records that date from well after Powell’s death. These records were created and maintained primarily by Tim Page, Jacqueline Miller Rice, John Sherman, and by Powell’s son, Jojo. Both Rice and Sherman generated and maintained files related to Powell’s estate well into the 1990s, as Rice was Powell’s executrix, and Sherman became Jojo’s guardian after Powell’s death. Jojo wrote to both Rice and Sherman throughout his life, and that correspondence is included in this collection, as well as his journal recording his memories of his mother, Dawn Powell. Lastly, correspondence, research files, and other records created by Tim Page in the course of his research work and the publication of his books on Powell are also included in this collection.

Series I: Cataloged Correspondence 1913-1965, undated

This series contains correspondence that was processed and arranged at the item level in the 1990s. Additional information on this correspondence can be found in the corresponding card catalog in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Among the cataloged correspondents are: Malcolm Cowley (4 letters); John Dos Passos (57 letters); Ernest Hemingway (1 letter); Gerald and Sara Murphy (23 letters); Mark Schorer (2 letters); Edmund Wilson (15 letters); and Powell's own letters to her family.

See Series II for additional correspondence.

Series II: Arranged Correspondence 1917-1965, undated

This series contains correspondence that was processed and arranged at the file level. See Series I: Cataloged Correspondence, for additional correspondence files.

This series contains both personal and professional correspondence. There is some additional professional correspondence in both Series IV and Series X.

For family correspondence, see Series I, IX and X.

Series III: Manuscripts and Related Materials circa 1914-1965

This series contains clippings, manuscripts, typescripts, notes, and other materials related to Powell’s published and unpublished works. Series III includes copies of published plays and clippings of published articles, reviews, and short stories. The collection also includes copies of many of Powell’s published novels and these can be found in Series VII: Books.

Where it is known that a work has multiple titles, these are noted in the finding aid, but these notes are not exhaustive, particularly for short stories.

Subseries III.1: Articles 1920-1950, undated

This subseries contains clippings and other copies of Powell’s published articles.

Subseries III.2: Novels circa 1922-1965

This subseries contains drafts, manuscripts, notes, outlines, typescripts, sketches, and synopses related to Powell’s published novels, as well as two of her unfinished novels: Marcia and Summer Rose .

Subseries III.3: Plays circa 1917-1964

This subseries contains drafts, manuscripts, notes, synopses, and typescripts, as well as published copies of two plays, John Henry Speaks (1919) and Jigsaw (1933, 1934).

Subseries III.4: Poetry 1925-1944, undated

This subseries contains unpublished poems, and a copy of The Independent Poetry Anthology (1925), which includes a published poem.

Subseries III.5: Reviews by Powell 1926-1965

Powell wrote book reviews for many publications during her career. This subseries contains clippings and typescripts of these reviews.

Many of the clippings are fragile; there are photocopies of reviews in files kept by Tim Page (Box 24) and Powell’s executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice (Boxes 48-49) which may be easier to handle than the original clippings in this subseries.

Subseries III.6: Short Stories circa 1914-1965

This subseries contains clippings, drafts, fragments, manuscripts, notes, and typescripts for Powell’s published and unpublished stories.

These are generally short manuscripts, primarily typescripts. Some items are incomplete, or in fragments. Some files include drafts, loose pages, and other materials. Publication information, if known, is included in the finding aid.

Subseries III.7: Television and Film 1940s-1950s

This subseries contains carbon correspondence and drafts of a treatment of “A Time to Be Born” and typescripts and agreements related to a proposed television adaptation of the short story “You Should Have Brought Your Mink”

Subseries III.8: Miscellaneous Manuscripts and Notes 1920s-1965

This subseries contains various unidentified fragments, manuscripts, and manuscript pages.

The subseries also includes notes and notebooks that contain material related to several different novels, as well as other sketches and notes. The more general notebooks in Series V.3 probably also contain additional material related to Powell’s writing.

Series IV: Professional Files 1910s-1990s

This series contains clippings files with articles on Powell and reviews of her books and plays, as well as various subject files. There are also files related to Powell’s estate kept by her executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, from the 1960s-1990s.

Subseries IV.1: Clippings Files 1920-1965

This subseries contains general clippings files of articles on Powell and reviews of her books.

Articles and clippings that were filed by subject are filed in Subseries IV.2: Subject Files.

Subseries IV.2: Subject Files 1917-1965, 1983-1989

This subseries contains subject files that are related to Powell’s professional activities. These files include book jackets, catalogs, clippings, contracts, correspondence, programs, remarks, and reviews. Most the files relate to specific projects or works, but there are also files related to awards, copyright, and literary agents.

Subseries IV.3 Estate Files 1920s-1990s

This subseries contains files and materials kept by Jacqueline Miller Rice from the 1960s-1990s. These files primarily contain correspondence, and financial and legal records. There is some original material from Powell mixed in with these files, as well, for reasons that are unclear.

Rice photocopied some of Powell’s records and created a set of files, perhaps for reference. These files are now in Boxes 48 and 49. These files include copies of correspondence, as well as copies of articles, drafts of manuscripts, notes, reviews written by Powell, reviews of Powell’s works, and copyright and financial information. It is possible that these might be helpful to researchers, as some original clippings are fragile, and these files pull together correspondence that may be scattered in different parts of Powell’s papers at this point.

Series V: Personal and Biographical Files 1914-1965

This series contains address books, appointment books, biographical statements, clippings files, diaries, financial records, notebooks, obituaries, personal documents, school notebooks and records, travel records, and copies of Powell’s will.

Subseries V.1: Address and Appointment Books 1920s-1964

This subseries contains address books, appointment books, miscellaneous calendar pages, and telephone books.

Many of the appointment books and calendar pages also contain short notes on Powell’s activities, similar to diary entries.

Subseries V.2: Diaries 1914-1965

This subseries contains Powell’s diaries.

Although Powell’s appointment books contain some short entries similar to what might be found in her diaries, all appointment books are filed together in Subseries V.1.

An abridged version of Powell’s diaries (approximately 1/5 of the content) was edited by Tim Page and published in 1995 by Steerforth Press.

Subseries V.3: Notes and Notebooks circa 1918-1963, undated

This subseries contains several notebooks and loose notes found in Powell’s papers. These deal with various subjects, but most have no titles.

A few notebooks clearly related to Powell’s writing activities are filed in Subseries III.8: Miscellaneous Manuscripts and Notes.

A few notebooks solely related to Powell’s education at Lake Erie College are filed with papers related to the college in Subseries V.4.

Subseries V.4: Other Papers 1910s-1965

This subseries contains various biographical statements and personal papers, including clippings files (not directly related to Powell), financial records, Powell’s honorary doctorate from Lake Erie College, obituaries, passports, personal stationary, printed ephemera, programs, school notebooks and records, travel records, and copies of Powell’s will.

Series VI: Photographs 1890s-1960s

This series contains primarily personal and professional photographs of Powell, her family, and places of residence in both New York and Ohio. Many photographs were identified by Tim Page in the course of his research work, but the series also contains many unidentified snapshots.

Series VII: Books 1923-1963

This series contains published editions of Powell’s novels, as well as a few items published by friends.

Subseries VII.1: Books by Powell 1925-1963

This subseries contains copies of many of Powell’s published novels.

Subseries VII.2: Books by Others 1923-1945

This subseries contains published works by Peggy Bacon, Malcolm Cowley, and Dwight Fiske.

Series VIII: Sketches and Drawings 1950s, undated

This series contains various sketches and drawings, many with captions.

Series IX: Family Materials 1891-1992

This series contains material related to Powell’s husband, son, and other extended family members. The records include address books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, financial records, journals, obituaries, school magazines, theater scrapbooks, and wills.

All photographs can be found in Series VI: Photographs.

Subseries IX.1: Joseph R. Gousha 1891-1962

This subseries contains materials related to Joseph R Gousha (1890-1962), Powell’s husband. The records include a baptismal certificate, correspondence, legal documents, theater scrapbooks, and writings.

The theater scrapbooks (1909-1916) contain records related to the theatrical performances that Gousha attended in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The scrapbooks include clippings, programs, and ticket stubs.

This subseries also contains some writings by Gousha. Gousha served on the staff and editorial board of “Spice,” the literary magazine of Norristown High School, and his records include original copies of the magazine for 1903-1907. The collection also includes clippings of articles written by Gousha, probably during the 1910s.

Joseph "Jojo" R. Gousha, Jr. 1921-1997

This subseries contains records related to Joseph “Jojo” R. Gousha, Jr. (1921-1998), Powell’s son. These records were either created or received by Jojo himself, or are directly related to his care. Although some of these records do not relate directly to Powell, any records related to Jojo have been preserved and kept in this collection, as there may be interest in Jojo himself.

From his early years, Jojo was considered to be mentally impaired. He was classified and treated as either “retarded” or “schizophrenic” but may have been autistic, a diagnosis that did not exist at that time. Jojo spent much of his life in hospitals and other institutions including Gladwyne Colony, Devereux School, and after 1954, state institutions in New York State.

Jojo was highly intelligent, and many records created by him survive, including records created after Powell’s death. The collection includes a substantial amount of correspondence written by Jojo to his parents, to Jacqueline Miller Rice, and to his cousin John (Jack) Sherman, who became his guardian after Powell’s death. There are also several diaries and journals (1958-1961, 1992) and a handwritten account of his memories of his mother (1993).

There is also correspondence, as well as financial, legal, and other records related to Jojo’s care and condition kept by his parents, by Jacqueline Miller Rice, and by John Sherman. These records are also included in this subseries.

Subseries IX.3: Other Family Materials 1930s-1994

This subseries contains clippings, correspondence, wills, and other materials related to Powell’s aunt, cousins, nieces, and sisters, and other extended family members.

Series X: Chronological Materials 1940s-1960s

This series contains several folders of mixed material that was largely disorganized, but roughly grouped together by time period. The folders include clippings, correspondence, drafts, miscellaneous manuscripts, notes, royalty statements, and other materials.

Series XI: Tim Page Files 1987-2007

This series contains articles, clippings, correspondence, proofs, research materials, typescripts, and other materials related to the research and publication of Page’s books on Powell.

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Using the Collection

Partially Offsite

Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions.

 The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 5-86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two (2) business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Dawn Powell Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Letters of John Dos Passos & Edmund Wilson Cataloged 02/02/1996 HR

Letter from Dawn Powell to her sisters Cataloged 04/09/1996 HR

Cowley, Hemingway, Murphey, Schorer letters Cataloged 02/26/1997 HR

Letters to Dawn Powell Processed 03/11/1998 HR

4 scrapbooks of J.R. Gousha Processed 03/02/1999 HR

Mss. & proofs Processed 05/28/1999 HR

Papers Cataloged 10/09/2000 HR

4 Diaries & printed materials Processed 10/09/2000 HR

Boxes 1-26 of this collection were processed by HR, 1996-2000. Additional material (Boxes 27-86) was processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Jessica Liston (Columbia College 2020), 2016-2019. Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi in March 2019.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion July 7, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-07-07 File created.
    2011-03-08 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Anouncements.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Appointment Books.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bills.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Biographies.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Contracts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Copyrights.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Diaries.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drawings.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Essays.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fiction.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Financial records.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
First drafts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Galley proofs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Greeting cards.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Indexes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Itineraries.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Journals.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Leases.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts for publication.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Newsletters.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Notes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Page proofs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Photographs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poems.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Programs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Proofs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Receipts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Reviews.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Scripts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Tickets.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Abbott, George, 1887-1995.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American literature.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Artists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor, Brooke.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Authors, American.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Barton, Bruce, 1886-1967.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Blume, Peter, 1906-1992.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Burke, C. G. (Cornelius G.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cheever, John.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Children with mental disabilitiesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Coates, Robert M. (Robert Myron), 1897-1973.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Crichton, Kyle, 1896-1960.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Crosby, John, 1912-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dancers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Davis, Hassoldt, 1907-1959.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dehn, Adolf, 1895-1968.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dos Passos, John, 1896-1970.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dramatists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Draper, Paul, 1909-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Drutman, Irving.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dundy, Elaine.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Eastman, Max, 1883-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fadiman, William.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Faragoh, Francis Edwards.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Faulk, John Henry.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Frankenberg, Lloyd, 1907-1975.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harris, Jed.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hill, Pati.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Holman, Libby.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hoult, Norah, 1898-1984.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howard, Sidney Coe, 1891-1939.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howe, Louis M. (Louis McHenry), 1871-1936.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howe, Quincy, 1900-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howes, Barbara.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, Nunnally.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Jolas, Eugène, 1894-1952.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Jolas, M.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Josephson, Hannah.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Latouche, John, 1917-1956.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Leclercq, Jacques, 1891-1971.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lewis, Robert, 1909-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Literary agents.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lowry, Malcolm, 1909-1957.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lowry, Robert, 1919-1994.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mitchell, Joseph, 1908-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Murphy, Gerald, 1888-1964.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Murphy, Sara.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Musicians.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (N.Y.)--Intellectual life--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Newton, Eric, 1893-1965.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Norman, Charles, 1904-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Novelists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
O'Neil, George, 1898-1940.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Payne, Robert, 1911-1983.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
People with mental disabilitiesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Perkins, Maxwell E. (Maxwell Evarts), 1884-1947.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Phillips, William, 1907 Nov. 14-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ratchford, Fannie Elizabeth, 1888-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Riggs, Lynn, 1899-1954.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Robertson, Bryan.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Saxon, Lyle, 1891-1946.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schorer, Mark, 1908-1977.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Scott, Evelyn, 1883-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Seldes, Gilbert, 1893-1970.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Smith, William Jay, 1918-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Speare, Dorothy, 1898-1951.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Stearns, Monroe.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Stout, Rex, 1886-1975.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Studin, Charles H.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sullivan, Frank, 1892-1976.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Swados, Harvey.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Tawney, Lenore.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Theater--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Thompson, Fred, 1900-1987.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Tresca, Carlo, 1879-1943.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Turnbull, Andrew, 1921-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wheelock, John Hall, 1886-1978.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
White, Katharine Sergeant Angell.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wilson, Rosalind Baker.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women authors, American.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women dramatists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women novelists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Yorck, Ruth, 1909-1966.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Dawn Powell was born on November 28, 1896 in Mount Gilead, Ohio.

Powell was the second of three daughters born to Roy King and Hattie (née Sherman) Powell. Hattie Powell died in 1903, and as her father often worked as a traveling salesman, Powell lived with a series of relatives after her death. Roy King Powell married Sabra Stearns in 1907, and thereafter left his daughters in their stepmother’s care. After Stearns proved to be abusive, Powell ran away from home in 1910 to live with her aunt, Orpha May Sherman Steinbrueck, in Shelby, Ohio. Aunt May supported both Powell’s education and her literary work. Powell went to Shelby High School, and with the financial assistance of her aunt, neighbors, and the college, went to college at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.

After graduating from Lake Erie College in 1918, Powell went to New York City, where she lived for the remainder of her life. After her arrival in the city, Powell did free-lance writing for newspapers and magazines, and worked at a series of jobs. While she was working for the Interchurch World Movement, she met Joseph R. Gousha, and they were married in November 1920. Their only child, Joseph “Jojo” R. Gousha, Jr., was born on August 22, 1921. He was severely handicapped, with what today might be diagnosed as autism.

Powell ultimately wrote sixteen novels, several plays, and more than 100 short stories. She also kept extensive diaries, particularly after 1930. Whither , her first novel, was published in 1925, although Powell always referred to She Walks in Beauty (1928) as her first novel. Reviews of early novels were uneven, and they were not commercially successful. Powell published several other novels during the 1930s and 1940s, including Turn, Magic Wheel (1936), Angels on Toast (1940), A Time to be Born (1942), which was her greatest commercial success, My Home is Far Away (1944), and The Locusts Have No King (1948). Later novels included The Golden Spur (1962), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1963.

Powell was known for her stinging social satires. Although some of her work was admired by critics, it was not commercially successful on the whole. Most of Powell’s published novels and plays were out of print at the time of her death in 1965. Long after her death, an essay was written by Gore Vidal in 1987 prompted a rediscovery of her work. During the 1990s, Tim Page worked with Powell’s family to free Powell’s papers and copyrights from the control of her original executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice. After this was accomplished, a biography and selections from Powell’s diaries and letters were published by Tim Page, and many of her works came back into print.

Powell died on November 14, 1965 in New York City, of colon cancer. She donated her body to Cornell Medical Center for medical research, and was eventually buried at Hart’s Island after her executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, declined to claim her remains five years later.

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