Davis, Hope Hale

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Writer, feminist, one-time Communist, and teacher, Frances Hope Hale Davis was born on November 2, 1903, in Iowa City, Iowa, the fifth and youngest child of Hal and Frances McFarland Hale. Davis studied art and worked for the Stuart Walker Repertory Company as a scenery painter. After a short-lived marriage to scenery designer George Patrick Wood, Davis moved to New York City. She worked in the advertising industry, eventually becoming a freelance writer, publishing stories in magazines such as Collier's, The New Yorker, and Bookman. She married her second husband, British journalist and Communist Claud Cockburn, in 1932, and gave birth to their daughter, Claudia, in 1933. Cockburn returned to Europe, and Davis went to work in the Consumers' Counsel of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Washington, D.C. Davis and Cockburn divorced in 1934. That same year, she married German economist Karl Hermann Brunck and together they joined the Communist Party. Soon after, Brunck suffered a mental breakdown; Davis chronicles his breakdown, and eventual suicide in 1937, in her memoir Great Day Coming (1993).

After Brunck's death Davis returned to New York City, where she worked as a free-lance writer, crafting short stories with subtle Communist themes. She met fellow Communist, professor, and literary critic Robert Gorham Davis at a congress of The League of American Writers; they were married in 1939. Soon after the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, the couple quit the Communist Party, but they continued to press for progressive reforms throughout their lives. Davis helped edit her husband's work, and continued writing stories for magazines such as Redbook and Town & Country, as well as literary criticism for the New Leader and other publications. She published a volume of short stories, The Dark Way to the Plaza, in 1968. In 1983-1984 she was a fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. She taught writing at the Radcliffe Seminars from 1985 until a month before her death on October 2, 2004, at age 100. Hope and Robert Davis had two children, Stephen Davis (born in 1943) and writer Lydia Davis (born in 1948).

From the description of Papers, 1831-1835, 1916-2002 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232009157

Writer, feminist, one-time Communist, and teacher, Frances Hope Hale Davis was born on November 2, 1903, in Iowa City, Iowa, the fifth and youngest child of Hal and Frances McFarland Hale. Davis' father died shortly before she was born, and she was raised in Iowa primarily by her mother. Following the death of her stepfather, John Overholt, Davis moved with her mother to Washington, D.C. She studied at the Corcoran School of Art and George Washington University, as well as Cincinnati University and the Portland School of Art. As assistant to the art director of the Stuart Walker Repertory Company (1924-1926), Davis painted scenery and designed costumes. While working for the Stuart Walker Company, she met and married her first husband, scenery designer George Patrick Wood, known as "Pat." The marriage was short-lived.

Davis moved to New York City and worked as a secretary to an advertising executive at the Frank Presbrey Agency, where she wrote copy and sold drawings for advertising. She left to become a freelance writer, publishing stories in magazines such as Collier's, The New Yorker, and Bookman . Davis became promotion manager for Life magazine in 1929, and in 1931, she became editor of Love Mirror, a pulp magazine for women.

Davis married her second husband, British journalist and Communist Claud Cockburn, in 1932. Cockburn returned to Europe, and Davis moved to Washington, D.C., after giving birth to their daughter, Claudia, in February 1933. She went to work in the Consumers' Counsel of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, where she edited and wrote for the Consumer Guide, in addition to writing radio scripts for programs produced by the government. Davis and Cockburn divorced in 1934. While in Washington, she met and married German economist Karl Hermann Brunck in 1934. The same year, they joined the Communist Party. Soon after, Brunck suffered a mental breakdown, and Davis admitted him to a mental institution where he was treated by noted psychologist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. Davis chronicles his breakdown, and eventual suicide in 1937, in her memoir Great Day Coming (1993).

After Brunck's death Davis returned to New York City, where she worked as a free-lance writer, crafting short stories with underlying Communist themes. She met fellow Communist, professor, and literary critic Robert Gorham Davis at a congress of The League of American Writers; they were married in 1939. Soon after the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, the couple quit the Communist Party, but they continued to press for progressive reforms throughout their lives. Robert Gorham Davis held teaching positions at Harvard University and Smith College and eventually became a professor of English at Columbia University. Davis helped edit her husband's work, and continued writing stories for magazines such as Redbook and Town & Country, as well as literary criticism for the New Leader and other publications. She published a volume of short stories, The Dark Way to the Plaza, in 1968. In 1983-1984 she was a fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, remaining there the following year as a visiting scholar. During these years she continued working on the memoir that would become Great Day Coming . She taught writing at the Radcliffe Seminars from 1985 until a month before her death on October 2, 2004, at age 100.

Hope and Robert Davis had two children, Stephen Davis (born in 1943) and writer Lydia Davis (born in 1948). Claudia Cockburn married the British performer Michael Flanders; they had two daughters, journalists Stephanie Flanders and Laura Flanders.

From the guide to the Papers, 1831-1835, 1916-2002, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Deihl, Marcia, 1949-. Papers of Marcia Deihl, 1965-2004 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
creatorOf Davis, Hope Hale. Letter, 1983, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Davis, Hope Hale. Papers, 1831-1835, 1916-2002 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Plath mss. II, 1932-1977 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Papers, 1831-1835, 1916-2002 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Mothers and daughters
Autobiography--Study and teaching
Authors, American--20th century
Feminists
Communists
Teachers
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1903

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