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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Minding other people's business

“Satire is people as they are; romanticism, people as they would like to be; realism, people as they seem with their insides left out.” – Dawn Powell

A prolific satirical novelist and short story writer, Dawn Powell also was a popular playwright who frequently set her stories in Midwestern towns and/or created plots that involved the transplantation of Midwesterners to New York City.

Best known for her novels She Walks in Beauty and A Time to be Born, Powell was born on this date in 1896 in Mt. Gilead.  She moved to New York City in 1918 to begin her writing career, first working as a freelance essayist and short story writer.  

Already creative as a child, she learned to read at age 4 and started writing diaries and journals at age 6.  It was those journals that fostered her further creativity after an abusive stepmother destroyed all of her writings out of spite.  The then 13-year-old Powell ran away from home, and was taken in by a sympathetic aunt who encouraged her to resume writing.  Powell later fictionalized that tale in her novel My Home Is Far Away.
Over her nearly 50-year writing career, she produced           
 a dozen novels, 10 plays, hundreds of short stories, and an extended diary starting in 1931 until her death from cancer in 1965.  “A writer’s business is minding other people’s business,” she once said.  “All the vices of the village gossip are the virtues of the writer.”

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