WOR/Mutual – Author! Author – Heywood Broun, James Thurber, Dawn Powell – October 9, 1939, Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Figures in the Literary world that may either trigger instant recognition or quizzical shrugs. S.J. Perelman, James Thurber, Dawn Powell and Heywood Broun were all notable figures in the literary world of the firs half of the twentieth century. Thurber probably more than the other two, as he was not only a talented writer, he was also a brilliant cartoonist and his drawings have been an integral part of our society for quite some time.
Dawn Powell was also a celebrated author and playwright. With over a dozen novels and hundreds of short stories to her credit, she fell out of vogue shortly after her death in 1965. However, even during her lifetime and even at her most popular, Powell wasn’t able to live solely on her writing, but instead took a wide assortment of odd jobs in order to survive and keep writing.
Heywood Broun was a celebrated journalist, most notably a sportswriter during his life. Unfortunately Broun died about two months after this broadcast and he is virtually unknown today.
But in 1939 they were celebrities and guests on this cultural gameshow, Author! Author! – this one airing in October of 1939.
This is an interesting program on several levels – hearing the voices of these literary figures, in some cases for the first and only time (I don’t think Dawn Powell did many interviews, if any). Broun would be dead within weeks and Thurber most likely did do a number of interviews during his life.
The premise to the show is a little silly, but most gameshows were at the time. However, having developed a fondness for the work of Dawn Powell (one of the most criminally overlooked literary figures from the 1930s and 40’s), it’s nice to hear this relatively rare example of her voice.
Nothing taxing or controversial – just bright and engaging people sitting around talking, with their craft as the focus.