DuBose Works on Porgy at the MacDowell Colony


Commentary by Robin Rausch
Music Specialist at The Library of Congress

The treasures case includes the original copyright deposit for DuBose and Dorothy Heyward's play “Porgy.” DuBose and Dorothy Heyward are one of the love stories of the MacDowell Colony because they met at the MacDowell Colony in 1922. Dorothy was then Dorothy Kuhns and she was a playwright from George Pierce Baker's English '47 class at Harvard, which was a playwriting workshop.

And she and DuBose fell in love and got married, and they returned to the MacDowell Colony in 1924 with their baby daughter. And DuBose was working on a novel at that time. DuBose was originally a poet, but after his marriage and with his growing family he decided that he might be able to make a better living if he started writing novels. So he had a novel in progress in 1924.

And he invited some other colonists to come and hear a reading from this novel. And one of the writers that attended this reading was named Chard Powers Smith, and he recalls this in his memoir. And he says, “We all agreed that the story of 'The Crippled Negro' was atrocious and that DuBose and Dorothy and Jenifer would be wiser to starve for poetry.” And of course the novel was “Porgy,” and DuBose finished it in spite of their criticism.

Back to top