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Howe, Helen, 1905-1975. Papers of Helen Howe, 1872-1975: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
January 1981

© 1981 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 77-M218, 78-M104
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Helen Howe, 1905-1975
Title: Papers of Helen Howe, 1872-1975
Quantity: 11.83 linear feet (11 cartons, 2 file boxes)
Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, writings, diaries, engagement books, etc., of Helen Howe, monologuist and author.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: January 1981
By: Jane S. Knowles

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 77-M218, 78-M104
This collection was received by the Schlesinger Library from Reginald Allen, Helen Howe's husband and literary executor in December 1977 and July 1978.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Folders 147-150, 152-155 are closed during the lifetime of the correspondents.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Helen Howe as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred citation for publication:

Helen Howe Papers, 1872-1975; item description, dates. 77-M218, 78-M104, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Helen Howe Additional papers, 1872-1975 (82-M96).


Helen Howe, monologuist and author, was born in Boston on January 11, 1905, the daughter of Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe, biographer and author, and Fanny Howe, essayist. She was the sister of Quincy Howe, editor and radio commentator, and of Mark DeWolfe Howe, professor of law at Harvard University. Howe attended Milton Academy and Radcliffe College x'27, and studied acting with Georges Vitray in France. She taught at the Fiske School in Boston for one year and then went to the New York Theater Guild in 1926. There her talent for monologues was encouraged and she began performing, at first for friends and then in public. She was acclaimed in London in 1936 and ranked with Ruth Draper and Cornelia Otis Skinner for her pungent satirical sketches. During World War II she toured the country for "Community Concerts." Her first novel The Whole Heart was published in 1943, followed by We Happy Few (1946), The Circle of the Day (1950), The Success (1956), and The Fires of Autumn (1959). The Gentle Americans, 1864-1900: Biography of A Breed , a family history that focused on her father, Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe, was published in 1965. In 1946 Howe married Reginald Allen, Curator of the Gilbert and Sullivan Collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, and former administrator of the Metropolitan Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra.


The collection is arranged in two series:


The collection includes extensive family correspondence and other papers, among them the writings and correspondence of Fanny Quincy Howe, the correspondence of Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe with Helen Howe and other family members, the correspondence of Howe with her brothers, her sister-in-law (Mary Manning Howe), and her nieces. It includes Howe's professional correspondence and her correspondence with friends. Series II, Howe's Writings, includes diaries, drafts of published novels, drafts of her unpublished autobiography, the unpublished account of her relationship with John Marquand and a complete ts. of the unpublished novel "The Center". The monologues (list included with inventory) have been removed and given to the Theater Collection, Harvard University.



Additional catalog entries

The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.
Allen, Reginald
American literature--20th century
Authors and publishers
Bancroft, Mary
Barzun, Jacques, 1907-2012
Boothby, Basil
Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Bowen, Catherine Drinker, 1897-1973
Cabot, Sally
Codman, Katherine Putnam Bowditch
Copeland, Charles Townsend, 1860-1952
Davis, Mabel Quincy, -1958
Draper, Ruth, 1884-1956
Family records
Gould, Alice Bache, 1868-1953
Hopkins, Mabel Muirhead
Howe family
Howe, Fanny Quincy, 1870-1933
Howe, George, 1900-1986
Howe, Halsey DeWolfe, 1921-2007
Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960
Howe, Mark De Wolfe, 1906-1967
Howe, Mary Manning
Howe, Quincy, 1900-1977
Howe, Wallis Eastburn, 1868-1960
Maine--Social life and customs
Manuscripts for publication
Marquand, Christina Sedgewick
Marquand, John P. (John Phillips), 1893-1960
Muirhead, Helen Quincy
Murray, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1893-1988
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
Origo, Iris, 1902-1988
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
Sarton, May, 1912-1995
Starr, Polly Thayer
Turner, Nancy Byrd, 1880-1971
Wecter, Elizabeth
Whitehill, Walter Muir, 1905-1978
Women authors, American
Yourcenar, Marguerite