Powell, Dawn

Powell, Dawn, 1896–1965, American novelist, b. Mt. Gilead, Ohio. She came to New York City in 1918 and settled several years later in Greenwich Village, where she spent most of the rest of her life and became a member of a stellar literary set. These two locales are reflected in Powell's 15 novels: her Ohio novels are realistic, often melancholy works set in small towns, such as Dance Night (1930) and the autobiographical My Home Is Far Away (1944); her Manhattan novels are witty and satirical works, incisive, mordant, and glittering with urban life, such as Turn, Magic Wheel (1936) and The Locusts Have No King (1948). Powell was well known in the 1940s and 50s, but aside from a devoted cult following she fell into literary obscurity in the decades that followed. A revival of interest began in the late 1980s, largely due to enthusiastic promotion of her work by Gore Vidal. Among Powell's other novels are The Happy Island (1938), Angels on Toast (1940), and The Golden Spur (1962). She also published several short-story collections and wrote a number of plays.

See T. Page, ed., The Diaries of Dawn Powell, 1931–1965 (1995), Selected Letters of Dawn Powell, 1913–1965 (1999), and Dawn Powell: Novels (2 vol., 2001); biographies by T. Page (1998) and M. S. Rice (2000).

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