Lenore Guinzburg Marshall, novelist, poet, and activist, was born in New York City on September 7, 1897. She was the daughter of Harry and Leonie (Kleinert) Guinzburg. A student at Barnard College, class of 1919, where she was an editor of the monthly literary magazine The Bear, and a member of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, Lenore was described in her class yearbook with the following verse: “Our manner toward her’s friendly / and even rather gracious, / For no one slings / Such odes and things / As does our lauriger Horatius.”
After graduation in 1919, she married James Marshall, an attorney who also served as president of the New York City Board of Education. The couple had two children, Ellen and Jonathan, who became the publisher of the Scottsdale, Arizona Daily Progress.
From 1929 to 1932, Marshall worked as an editor at the publishing firm of Cape and Smith, where she convinced her company to take a chance on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, which had been rejected by twelve other publishers. She served as the poetry editor of American Mercury in 1938 and during World War II was active in the founding of children’s writing clubs in the New York City public schools. Throughout her career, she contributed articles and reviews to New York literary magazines. A poet in her own right, Marshall published No Boundary (1943), Other Knowledge (1957), and Latest Will (1969). She wrote the novels Only the Fear (1955), Hall of Mirrors (1937), and The Hill Is Level (1959). The last of these was the story of three generations of mothers and their daughters in a quest for personal emancipation and happiness. Unknown Artists was published in 1947; The Confrontation and Other Stories appeared in 1972, shortly after Marshall’s death; and Invented a Person: The Personal Record of a Life was published in 1979. Marshall was a member and director of PEN, the Poetry Society of America, Pen and Brush, the Authors’ League, and the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In 1957, a selection of her poems was recorded on the Spoken Arts label.
Marshall’s social concern and political activism were perhaps as important to her career as her literary accomplishments. A member of the Post-War World Council from 1940 to 1962, Marshall expressed profound concerns for the fate of humanity in the wake of world war. She was a founder, in 1956, and member to her death of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. In 1971, she helped to found and was codirector, with nuclear physicist Charles E. Goodell, of the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, an organization committed to enhancing public awareness of the dangers of nuclear power. This group targeted as especially dangerous the use of nuclear power for generating electricity and the reliance on nuclear weapons as a major component in foreign policy and national security.
Throughout her life, Marshall championed independence of spirit, both literary and political, and she worked consciously and tirelessly in the literary and political realms for the betterment of humanity. Lenore Guinzburg Marshall died on September 23, 1971 at age seventy-two in the Doylestown (Pennsylvania) Hospital after suffering an embolism.
SELECTED WORKS BY LENORE GUINZBURG MARSHALL
The Confrontation and Other Stories (1972); Hall of Mirrors (1937); The Hill Is Level (1959); Invented a Person: The Personal Record of a Life (1979); Latest Will (1969); No Boundary (1943); Only the Fear (1955); Other Knowledge (1957); Unknown Artists (1947).
Obituary. NYTimes, September 24, 1971, 34:1.
Who’s Who in New York. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1960.
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Tischler, Barbara L.. "Lenore Guinzburg Marshall." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 11, 2020) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/marshall-lenore-guinzburg>.