Godwin, Gail

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Author Gail Godwin was born in Birmingham, Ala.; grew up in Asheville, N.C.; was graduated in 1959 from the University of North Carolina with a B.A. in journalism; and studied at the Iowa Writers Workshop, earning an M.A. in creative writing and Ph. D. in English literature. She has published ten novels and taught in various colleges and universities. Godwin lives in Woodstock, N.Y.

From the description of Gail Godwin papers, 1913-2006. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 49338168

Gail Godwin (1937- ) was born in Birmingham, Ala., to Mose W. Godwin and Kathleen Krahenbuhl Godwin (later Cole). Her parents divorced when she was a child and she was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother, Edna Rogers Krahenbuhl. Kathleen was both parent and friend to Gail, and the close relationship between mother and daughter would be lifelong.

Kathleen (1912-1989) grew up in western North Carolina with her parents, Tom Krahenbuhl and Edna Rogers Krahenbuhl. She attended Greenville Womans College and then transferred to Furman University to finish her B.A. In 1935 she earned an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina. Kathleen married Mose W. Godwin in 1936 and gave birth to Gail the following year. The marriage was shortlived. After the divorce, Kathleen supported her daughter and mother by teaching college English, reporting for the Asheville Citizen Times, and writing romance fictions under the names Kathleen Godwin and Charlotte Ashe. In 1948, she married Frank Cole and with him had three more children: Franchelle Cole, Tommy Cole, and Rebel Cole. Kathleen returned to creative writing after her children were grown, although not for financial gain. She also divorced Frank Cole and became active in local Episcopal churches and in the volunteer community of Asheville, N.C. Kathleen Cole died in 1989.

Kathleen's influence in her daughter's life is particularly evident in Gail's educational training and career path as a writer. As a child, Gail attended St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines Academy, a school run by Roman Catholic nuns in Asheville, N.C. She was graduated from high school in 1955 in Portsmouth, Va., and enrolled in Peace Junior College in Raleigh, N.C. She continued her studies at the University of North Carolina, where she was graduated in 1959 with a B.A. in journalism. While at the University of North Carolina, Gail wrote columns and feature articles for the student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel .

After college, Gail moved to Florida to take a job as a reporter for the Miami Herald . A year later, she was fired by the bureau chief, who felt they had both failed to develop Gail's writing ability into good reporting. Frustrated by this setback in her writing career, she married Miami Herald photographer Doug Kennedy. The union, which lasted only three months, is described in her unpublished first novel, Gull Key. Upon dissolution of her marriage, Gail returned briefly to western North Carolina, then embarked on an open-ended trip to Europe. She stayed six years. For most of that time, she worked for the U.S. Travel Service at the American Embassy in London and wrote novels and short stories in her spare time. In 1965, she married Ian Marshall, an English psychiatrist she met in a creative writing class. This marriage also proved to be brief, though it provided her with material for her first published novel, The Perfectionists .

After six years abroad, Godwin returned to the United States and enrolled in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she earned an M.A. in creative writing and a Ph.D. in English literature. The Perfectionists (1970) would serve as her dissertation. While at the Writers' Workshop, Gail studied creative writing under Kurt Vonnegut and with John Irving. Both would remain good friends of Godwin's, and the latter a regular correspondent and friendly critic.

After leaving Iowa City, Godwin accepted a fellowship at the University of Illinois, spent time at the Yaddo artist community in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and occasionally taught writing courses at various New York schools, including Vassar College and Columbia University. In 1976, Godwin settled in Woodstock, N.Y., with composer Robert Starer, her companion until his death in April 2001.

In the course of her more than 30 years of full-time writing, Godwin has published twelve novels, two collections of short fiction, a work of non-fiction, and an edited version of her early journals. In addition, dozens of her short stories and essays have been published in journals, magazines, and newspapers, and she and Starer collaborated on ten musical works. Godwin's body of work has garnered many honors, including three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Five of her novels have been on the New York Times best seller list.

Godwin lives and writes in Woodstock, N.Y.

From the guide to the Gail Godwin Papers, 1913-2008, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Gail Godwin Papers, 1913-2008 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Firm). Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill records, 1982-2007 (author abstract D-K). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Yardley, Jonathan. Jonathan Yardley papers, 1792-2006. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Luxon, Norval Neil, b. 1899. Norval Neil Luxon papers, circa 1930-1989. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Vonnegut mss., 1941-2007 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly
referencedIn Kirsch, Robert. Robert Kirsch papers, 1979. The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn Patricia Rowe Willrich Papers, 1949-1996 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Richard Gaither Walser Papers (#4168), 1918-1988 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1961-1988. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Godwin, Gail. Antiques tell a tale : [typescript] : and related correspondence, 1984. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn McDowell, Frederick P. W. Fred McDowell collection of literary correspondence, 1965-1992. University of Iowa Libraries
creatorOf Godwin, Gail. Gail Godwin papers, 1913-2006. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Starer, Robert. Anna Margarita's will : for soprano, flute, horn in F, cello and piano / music by Robert Starer ; text by Gail Godwin. The Juilliard School, Lila Acheson Wallace Library
referencedIn Spearman, Walter. Walter Spearman papers, 1900-1986 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Gerard, Philip. [North Carolina authors literary ephemera : G]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Powell, Dannye Romine. Dannye Romine Powell papers, 1975-1999. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Joyce Carol Oates Papers, 1956-2006 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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correspondedWith William Godwin person
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correspondedWith Winters, Sister Kathleen person
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Southern States
North Carolina
Mothers and daughters
Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
American fiction--Women authors
Domestic fiction, American
Dream interpretation
Creative writing--Study and teaching
Novelists, American--20th century--Family relationships
Authors, American--20th century--Diaries
Authors, American--20th century--Family relationships
Novelists, American--20th century
Authors, American--20th century
Women authors, American--20th century
Women authors, American--Diaries
Families--Social life and customs
Women authors, American--Family relationships


Birth 1937-06-18




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