Zoë Akins (1886-1958) was a dramatist, novelist, poet and screenwriter. Born in Humansville, Missouri, on 30 October, she
was educated at home before attending Monticello Seminary in Godfrey, Illinois, and Hosmer Hall in St. Louis. While a teenager
in St. Louis, Akins wrote poetry and criticism for William Marion Reedy’s Mirror; in 1905, she moved to New York to be an
actress but eventually found writing to be her true talent. Her early plays include, “Iseult the Fair,” “Papa,” “The Magical
City,” and the moderately successful “Déclassée,” with Ethel Barrymore. In 1928, Akins moved to California permanently to
work as a screenwriter under contract to Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she became a favorite writer of George Cukor.
During this time she wrote the screenplays “Christopher Strong” and “Morning Glory” for Katharine Hepburn and “Camille” for
Greta Garbo. During these years she continued to write for the stage and, in 1935, won the Pulitzer Prize for her dramatization
of Edith Wharton’s story, “The Old Maid.” In addition to many screenplays and plays, Akins also authored two volumes of poetry,
criticism, two novels, teleplays, magazine and newspaper articles. On March 12, 1932, Akins married Capt. Hugo Rumbold, an
artist and set designer from a British diplomatic family, but, tragically, he died only eight months later on 18 November;
she never remarried. Akins lived the remainder of her life in Southern California, where she died, after a brief illness,
on October 29, 1958.
The status of the literary rights for Zoë Akins remains unresolved at this time. Please consult the curator of the collection
for additional information. Willa Cather stated in her will that none of her letters are ever to be published. Therefore,
no copies of any kind are to be made of these letters; additionally, the letters are not to be published or quoted from in
any print or electronic medium. These restrictions are noted in this Finding Aid and on the folders.