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COLLECTION Identifier: 77-M218, 78-M104

Papers of Helen Howe, 1872-1975


Correspondence, writings, diaries, engagement books, etc., of Helen Howe, monologuist and author.


  • Creation: 1872-1975

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

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

Conditions Governing Use

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.


11.83 linear feet (11 cartons, 2 file boxes)

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 Series II, Howe's Writings, includes diaries, drafts of published novels, drafts of her unpublished autobiography, the unpublished account of her relationship with John Marquand and a complete ts. of the unpublished novel "The Center".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.


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:

  1. Series I: Biographical data and correspondence
  2. ___A. Photographs, biographical data, diaries
  3. ___B. Family correspondence
  4. ___C. Helen Howe's correspondence with friends
  5. ___D. Helen Howe's professional correspondence (see also Series II)
  6. Series II: Helen Howe's writings, including correspondence re: novels and books.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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.

Related Material:

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


  1. Box 1: Photographs
  2. Carton 2: 1-31
  3. Carton 3: 32-68
  4. Carton 4: 69-98
  5. Carton 5: 99-129
  6. Carton 6: 130-190
  7. Carton 7: 191-232
  8. Carton 8: 233-262
  9. Carton 9: 263-300
  10. Carton 10: 301-313
  11. Carton 11: Drafts of The Gentle Americans
  12. Carton 12: Drafts and notes for "The Center," 1968-1972, Helen Howe's unpublished novel.
  13. Box 13: Items removed from #142, 143 CLOSED UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2027; and #147-150, 150-155 CLOSED DURING THE LIFETIMES OF THE CORRESPONDENTS.

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: January 1981

By: Jane S. Knowles

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
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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