Tag Archives: Dawn Powell

Woggs Diary 1915

Cover Woggs Diary 1915

Powell spent the summer of 1915 as a maid and waitress at the Shore Club in Painesville, Ohio. The notebook is copiously illustrated with Powell’s own caricatures, many of which are very funny. Approximately 100 pages. Never before published.

The Diaries of Dawn Powell: 1915-1965

Cover 1943-1953 Diaries

What are the Dawn Powell diaries? They are 43 handwritten volumes dating from 1915 to 1965 by the American author Dawn Powell (1896-1965). An abridged version (approximately 1/5 of the content) was edited by Tim Page and published in 1995 by Steerforth Press, to international acclaim. Now, with the blessing of Powell’s family and her […]

Camp Caho Diary 1916

Camp Caho Diary 1916

Powell kept a detailed diary during the summer of 1916 when she was at Camp Caho. This diary in the form of a notebook is filled with caricatures and memorabilia; more than a dozen pages are presented here to capture its flavor. Approximately 100 pages. Never before published and discovered only in 2004.

1920 Diary

Cover 1920 diary

“The Book of Joe” Powell kept this small diary in early 1920 as she was falling in love with her husband-to-be Joseph Gousha. If Powell was ever again so happy and contented for such an extended period of time, her diaries do not reflect it. Approximately 50 pages.

1920-1942 Diaries

Covers 1920-1942 Diaries

This is a representative picture of Powell’s diaries between 1920 and 1942. Conditions vary. Some bindings are very weak and the 1931 diary has no hard cover at all.

1925 Diary

Cover 1925 Diary

This is more of an appointment book than a diary. Most of the entries are only a sentence or two long. 1925 was the year that Dawn Powell moved to Greenwich Village where she would live for the rest of her life. There are coded references to what seems to have been an affair with […]

Who was Dawn Powell?


1896 Born in family home at 53 West North Street in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, on November 28, the second of three daughters of Roy King Powell and Hattie Sherman Powell. (In later years Powell habitually gives her birth year as 1897. Father, b. August 24, 1869, and mother, b. March 24, 1872, are both from […]

1926 Diary

Cover 1926 Diary

Another abbreviated diary with short entries. Powell’s father Roy was mortally ill and she returned to Oberlin, Ohio, to sit with him until he died. She was in the midst of finishing both “She Walks in Beauty” and what would become “The Bride’s House.”

1927 Diary

Cover 1927 Diary

Another tersely factual diary with many references to Jack Lawson and to John Dos Passos. No diaries exist for 1928 and 1929. Tim Page believes that they may have been destroyed at the same time Powell seems to have destroyed all correspondence with Lawson.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Sale

Cover 1942 Diary

What are the terms of the sale? The Diaries are for sale solely as a lot: proposals to purchase anything other than the entire lot will not be considered. The buyer must ensure that a full copy of all manuscripts is available to scholars and to the public, through a library or research center, and […]

1930 Diary

Cover 1930 Diary

The last of Powell’s appointment-book like diaries. Beginning in 1931 she would be much more expansive in her writing. It was in 1930 that Powell published the book of which she was always most proud, “Dance Night.” She was crushed by its poor reception, all though none of that is reflected here.

1931 Diary

Cover 1931 Diary

The first of Powell’s great diaries. All of a sudden, she begins to write extended mood pieces and observations about her life, her friends, her New York City, and anything that captures her interest. At the end of the year she moves to Hollywood where she lives in the Chateau Elysée. She will live there […]


1932 Diary

Cover 1932 Diary

Another very rich and substantial diary. Powell begins the year in Hollywood then flees back first to Ohio and then to New York. Very little of this has ever been printed. Publication of “Come to Sorrento,” which the publishers insist upon calling “The Tenth Moon.” Here is Powell’s uncut entry for August 15, 1932. Much […]

1933 Diary

Cover 1933 Diary

Another unusually rich and descriptive diary. “Big Night” opens in January and closed after nine performances to mostly terrible reviews. (One of the few sympathetic critics was Robert Benchley.) Powell would finish the second of the only two plays produced during her lifetime this year. At the end of the year, she seems to have […]

1934 Diary

Cover 1934 Diary

Powell completes “Jig-Saw,” which does only moderately better than “Big Night,” but is published in book form. Powell’s novel “The Story of a Country Boy” is published. She also begins the first of her great New York satires, “Turn, Magic Wheel.”

1935 Diary

Cover 1935 Diary

This diary is in unusually poor physical condition but contains much material that is fascinating. Powell continues to work on “Turn, Magic Wheel” and begins to sketch “The Happy Island,” which would be taken mostly from her diaries.

1936 Diary

Cover 1936 Diary

Another diary in frail shape. Powell published “Turn, Magic Wheel” to enthusiastic reviews and poor sales. Her diaries from the mid-thirties are filled with vignettes—some humorous, some tragic—that she observed in New York and elsewhere. Powell was already planning her first book of short stories in 1936. A collection would not be published for another […]

1937 Diary

Cover 1937 Diary

Another detailed diary of Powell’s life, friends, and observed behavior. Powell working on “The Happy Island” with the help of generous doses of Dexedrine. Powell was never a better critic than when she was casually discussing other writers in her diary. Powell is plotting “The Happy Island” in this previously unpublished diary entry.

1938 Diary

Cover 1938 Diary

Powell completes and publishes “The Happy Island.” Diary includes stories of composer Carl Ruggles, novelist Felipe Alfau, and much discussion of world politics.

1939 Diary

Cover 1939 Diary

Much high life at the hotels Brevoort and Lafayette; pre-war anxiety; stories of Coby Gilman, Niles Spencer and Bobby Lewis. Many overheard conversations, which bring the times to vivid life. Samples of the 1939 diary, including what could be called Powell’s “credo” in the middle of the March 2 entry. An unedited version of the […]

1940 Diary

Cover 1940 Diary

Powell begins what will become “A Time to Be Born.” The last year before America enters World War II. Amusing vignettes about Tanaquil LeClercq as a ten-year-old diva, Ernest Hemingway, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. “Angels on Toast” is published and dedicated to her new editor, Maxwell Perkins. Powell was already beginning to plot “A […]

1941 Diary

Cover 1941 Diary

Powell begins to sketch her autobiographical novel “My Home Is Far Away” in an undated section of this diary. Many anecdotes about Powell’s friend Coby Gilman, some as of yet unpublished.

1942 Diary

Cover 1942 Diary

Publication of “A Time to Be Born.” A visit to Ohio, which increases Powell’s interest in pursuing an autobiographical novel. On occasion, writing came easily for Powell. The story, retitled “Audition,” is one of her most admired. Throughout her life, Powell was deeply concerned about her financial situation. In her early sixties, she and her […]

1943 Diary

Cover 1943 Diary

Powell’s long friendship with Edmund Wilson deepens and there are several stories about him in this diary. Powell evaluates her own work: “Reading Whither I was horrified at how completely hopeless and utterly devoid of promise it was—far worse than what I had written at 13. On the other hand a re-reading of Dance Night […]

1943-1953 Diaries

Cover 1943-1953 Diaries

Assembled diaries 1943-1953.

1944 Diary

Cover 1944 Diary

Publication of “My Home Is Far Away.” Powell was deeply hurt by Edmund Wilson’s mixed review in The New Yorker. Powell is finishing “My Home Is Far Away”; “Perkins” is Max Perkins, who also edited Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe.

1945 Diary

Cover 1945 Diary

World War II ends and Powell says absolutely nothing about it. She is more interested in the sequel to “My Home Is Far Away,” which she will never complete. In September, her beloved cat, Perkins (named for Max), dies, inspiring one of the most passages in her diaries. Powell’s complete and unedited eulogy for her […]

1946 Diary

Cover 1946 Diary

Postwar New York: Anecdotes about artists Niles Spencer, Reginald Marsh, and Peggy Bacon. Powell greatly distressed by Bikini atom bomb tests.

1947 Diary

Cover 1947 Diary

John Dos Passos is in a terrible accident, which kills his wife Katy; Powell visits him in Boston. At the end of the year, Powell is badly beaten by her son Jojo, which she refers to only obliquely but exults in the “luxury” of her hospital stay. The unedited report of Powell’s visit to see […]

1948 Diary

Cover 1948 Diary

Powell visits Haiti. Publication of “The Locusts Have No King.” Powell’s response to critiques of “The Locusts Have No King.”

1949 Diary

Cover 1949 Diary

Powell had a tumor removed from her chest, which had been blocking her breath increasingly. Summer at MacDowell Colony. Death of sister Mabel in October effectively brings to an end her interest in a sequel to “My Home Is Far Away.”

1950 Diary

Cover 1950 Diary

Much time spent with Gerald and Sara Murphy. Powell inspired to start work on “The Wicked Pavilion.” In November, Powell makes her one and only trip to Europe, where she lives in Paris at the Hotel Lutetia. Powell begins planning her novel “The Wicked Pavilion” during a visit to the Murphy estate on the Hudson […]

1951 Diary

Cover 1951 Diary

Powell leaves Paris for London in early January then sails home to New York. She assembles the collection of her short stories that will be published in 1952 as “Sunday, Monday and Always.”

1952 Diary

Cover 1952 Diary

Publication of Powell’s short story collection “Sunday, Monday and Always.” Powell working hard on “The Wicked Pavilion” but having an usual case of writer’s block. This meditation would eventually become the autobiographical short story “What Are You Doing in My Dreams?” Continuation of Powell’s meditation that would become her short story “What Are You Doing […]

1953 Diary

Cover 1953 Diary

Powell continues to work on “The Wicked Pavilion.” Most of the year is spent anxious and depressed. Much discussion of other writers in this year’s diary. Powell names 11 novels that she liked best. A long, unedited sequence from Powell’s diaries—mixture of gossip, writerly concerns, and ideas for new projects. Continuation of Powell’s mixture of […]

1954 Diary

Cover 1954 Diary

Publication of “The Wicked Pavilion.” A new friendship with Gore Vidal, whose championship would help launch the Dawn Powell revival 30 years later. Visits to her son Jojo at Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island. Reviewing books for the New York Post. Powell’s early response to Gore Vidal, who would do so much to revive […]

1954-1965 Diaries

Cover 1954-1965 Diaries

Assembled diaries 1954-1965

1955 Diary

Cover 1955 Diary

Powell begins work on her atypical French novel “A Cage for Lovers” at Yaddo. She meets Jacqueline Miller (later Rice), who would become her executrix. Powell is off to Yaddo, but not before finishing one of her many book reviews for the New York Post.

1956 Diary

Cover 1956 Diary

Powell hard at work on “A Cage for Lovers.” Fawcett publishes Powell’s own hastily rewritten abridgement of “Angels on Toast” in paperback; it is called “A Man’s Affair.” A previously unpublished entry about Powell’s continuing struggles with her son Jojo. Powell revisits Long Island, where the family once kept a house out near Port Jefferson. […]

1957 Diary

Cover 1957 Diary

“A Cage for Lovers” is published in dramatic altered form and finds little success. Terrible financial problems increasing as Powell’s husband prepares for enforced retirement from his Madison Avenue firm. Powell spends much time at the Cedar Tavern with the Abstract Expressionists. Typical—and previously unpublished—example of the way Powell would often plan books or stories […]

1958 Diary

Cover 1958 Diary

Powell and Joseph Gousha are out of money and forced to leave their duplex apartment. A period of tenancy in a succession of residential hotels and sublet apartments follows.

1959 Diary

Cover 1959 Diary

The impoverished Powell and her husband continue nomadic life while Powell tries to concentrate on what would become “The Golden Spur,” her last completed novel.

1960 Diary

Cover 1960 Diary

Powell’s second residency at Yaddo leads to new friendships with Hanna Green and John Cheever. Her old friend Margaret de Silver starts a trust fund for Powell and she has her own apartment for the first time in almost two years. Work on “The Golden Spur” continues. Gossip from Yaddo.

1961 Diary

Cover 1961 Diary

Joseph Gousha in declining health. Powell herself hospitalized in May. Continued work on “The Golden Spur.” Powell’s diaries are filled with overheard conversations of this kind, most of which have never been published.

1962 Diary

Cover 1962 Diary

A year of many deaths—artist Franz Kline, patron Margaret de Silver, and husband Joseph Gousha. Somehow, Powell finished “The Golden Spur” and it was published in the fall. Edmund Wilson devotes more than 2,000 admiring words to the book in The New Yorker. Powell reflects on the long struggles with her husband and her son.

1963 Diary

Cover 1963 Diary

“The Golden Spur” is nominated for a National Book Award, but is not selected. Powell publishes “The Elopers,” one of her finest short stories, in the Saturday Evening Post. She also works on her last, unfinished novel, “Summer Rose.” One of many unpublished entries in Powell’s diaries. Roughly three quarters of her diaries exist only […]

1964 Diary

Cover 1964 Diary

It is increasingly obvious that Powell is seriously ill. Much of the year taken up with medical appointments; cancer diagnosed in August.

1965 Day Book Diary

Cover 1965 Day Book Diary

Two diaries for 1965 have survived. This one is mostly an appointment book and was discovered after the publication of “The Diaries of Dawn Powell” in 1995.

1965 Diary

Cover 1965 Diary

Powell’s last diary kept as she loses weight and grows more sickly. Many of the entries this year are about her failing health and her determination to try to continue writing. She is delighted by the birth of Jacqueline Miller Rice’s daughter named Hilary Dawn. Powell dies at St. Luke’s Hospital on November 14, 1965—the […]