Johnson, Owen, 1878-1952

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Owen McMahon Johnson (1878-1952), novelist and short story writer, was the author of the Lawrenceville stories and Stover at Yale (1914). He attended Lawrenceville School and graduated from Yale in 1901, was a war correspondent during World War I, and published his last novel in 1931.

From the description of Owen Johnson papers, 1889-1950 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702131648

Owen Johnson, American novelist and short-story writer, is best remembered for juvenile stories about his student days at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and a best-selling novel, Stover at Yale (1911), in which he criticized many aspects of college life including the senior societies at Yale. The Civil War, the French Revolution, New York city police courts, contemporary manners and morals, and marriage problems are some of the topics covered in his other novels, which include Arrows of the Almighty (1901), In the Name of Liberty (1905), Max Fargus (1905), The Salamander (1913), and The Woman Gives (1915). Several of the Lawrenceville novels, such as The Eternal Boy (1909), The Humming Bird (1910), The Varmint (1910), and The Tennessee Shad (1911), were also published serially in magazines, like McClure's . The Varmint was later included in the library of classic American fiction at the White House. Johnson also wrote plays and several of his novels were made into movies, including Children of Divorce (1927) and the Lawrenceville stories as The Happy Years in 1945 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Johnson was born in New York city on August 27, 1878, the son of Robert Underwood and Katherine McMahon Johnson. He attended the Lawrenceville School where he founded and edited The Lawrenceville Literary Magazine . At Yale, from which he graduated in 1901, he chaired the Yale Literary Magazine for the Class of 1900.

Most of his early writing was done in Paris, where he lived after his first marriage in 1901. During World War I, he served as war correspondent for the New York Times and Collier's and wrote The Spirit of France (1915), a nonfiction book about the heroism of the French people. This was followed by The Wasted Generation (1921), a novel about an American who enlists in the French Foreign Legion at the outbreak of the war.

From 1923 to 1948, he resided in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and continued to write novels about marriage and divorce, including Blue Blood (1923) and Sacrifice (1929), and stories for The Saturday Evening Post about golf. He wrote little after his last novel, The Coming of the Amazons, was published in 1931. Instead his attentions turned to farming, painting, and politics. In 1936 and 1938 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as the Democratic nominee from the First District of Massachusetts. He died at the age of sixty-three on January 27, 1952 at his home in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, where he lived for the last five years of his life.

His first wife, Mary Galt Stockly, daughter of a Cleveland financier, died in 1910. She was followed by Esther Ellen Cobb, of San Francisco, whom Johnson divorced in 1917; Cecile Denise de la Garde of Chignens, France, who died on May 9, 1918; Catherine Sayre Burton of New York, who died two years after their marriage in 1921; and Gertrude Bovee Le Boutillier, a widow, who married Johnson in 1926. He had three children by his first wife, Robert Underwood Johnson, Olivia Johnson Paschkoff, and Katherine Johnson Bunnell; Owen Denis de la Garde by his third wife; and Patricia Johnson Deely by his fourth wife.

From the guide to the Owen Johnson papers, 1889-1950 (inclusive), (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Johnson, Owen, 1878-1952. Letter, Stockbridge, Mass., to William Seaver Woods [manuscript] 1923 April 23. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Johnson, Owen, 1878-1952. Owen Johnson papers, 1889-1950 (inclusive). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Burnett, Frances Hodgson, 1849-1924. Papers of Frances Hodgson Burnett [manuscript], 1880-1908, and n.d. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Johnson, Owen, 1878-1952. Blue blood; a drama ... New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Owen Johnson papers, 1889-1950 (inclusive) Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Robert Underwood Johnson papers, 1875-1937 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Gruger, Frederic Rodrigo. Frederic Rodrigo Gruger collection, 1911-1935 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Frederic Rodrigo Gruger collection, 1911-1935 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Holbrook, Stewart Hall, 1893-1964. [The Civil war ; miscellaneous materials about the American civil war.]. Angelo State University Library, Porter Henderson Library
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Burnett, Frances Hodgson, 1849-1924. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Committee on Allied Tribute to France. corporateBody
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Democratic Party (Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gruger, Frederic Rodrigo. person
associatedWith Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1853-1937 person
associatedWith Lawrenceville School. corporateBody
associatedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Woods, William Seaver, 1872-1962, person
associatedWith Yale University. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Stockbridge (Mass.)
Stockbridge (Mass.)
Authors, American
World War, 1914-1918
Children's literature, American
College stories, American--Connecticut
Drama (American)
Preparatory school students
College stories, American
College students


Birth 1878-08-27

Death 1952-01-27



Ark ID: w6708gzc

SNAC ID: 29681468