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Papers of Zoë Akins, 1878-1959
ZA 1 - 7330  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Papers of Zoë Akins, 1878-1959
    Dates: 1878-1959
    Collection Number: ZA 1 - 7330
    Creator/Collector: Akins, Zoë, 1886-1958
    Extent: 7,354 pieces; 185 boxes.
    Repository: Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department
    Abstract: Personal and professional papers of American writer Zoë Akins.
    Language of Material: English


    The collection is open for qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    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 Therefore, no copies of any kind are to be made of these letters; additionally, the letters are not to be published or quoted from in any print or electronic medium.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.

    Preferred Citation

    Papers of Zoë Akins, 1878-1959. Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department

    Acquisition Information

    Zoë Akins, Purchase, March 20, 1952, Gift, July 28, 1952; estate of Zoë Akins, May 12, 1961; Henry O'Neil, Gift; Walter R. Benjamin, Purchase, January 10, 1978; Occidental College Library, Gift, January 21, 1982; R. E. Evans, Gift, December 23, 1986.

    Biography/Administrative History

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection consists of the personal and business papers of Zoë Akins (1886-1958). It includes correspondence with various literary, theatrical and motion picture figures of the first half of the twentieth century. There are also manuscripts of novels, plays, poems, short stories, outlines for plays, and articles. There is also correspondence related to her husband, Hugo Rumbold (d. 1932), and the Rumbold family. The collection also contains various photographs, manuscripts by others, and various business papers (including agreements, accounts, contracts, copyrights, and receipts). Correspondents represented in the collection include: Aline Barnsdall, Ethel Barrymore, Carlo Beuf, Billie Burke, Willa Cather, George Cukor, Patterson Greene, Sir Gerald Grove, William Harris, Carl Hovey, Jobyna Howland, Orrick Johns, George S. Kaufman, Alice Kauser, Sonya Levien, Anita Loos, Amy Lowell, W. Somerset Maugham, H.L. Mencken, Harry Moses, Kay Nielsen, George O'Neil, Max Pfeffer, Rosamond Pinchot, Una Pope-Hennessey, William Marion Reedy, Lady Etheldred Rumbold, Sir Horace Rumbold, Hugo Rumbold, David Selznick, Edward Sheldon, Sara Teasdale, Harriet Ware, Edith Wharton, John Hall Wheelock.

    Indexing Terms

    Women dramatists, American - 20th century - Archives
    Women novelists, American - 20th century - Archives
    Women poets, American - 20th century - Archives
    Women screenwriters - United States - Archives
    Akins, Zoe, 1886-1958 - Archives
    Barnsdall, Aline, 1882-1946
    Barrymore, Ethel, 1879-1959
    Beuf, Carlo, 1893-1981
    Burke, Billie, 1885-1970
    Cather, Willa, 1873-1947
    Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971
    Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965
    Cukor, George, 1899-1983
    Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940
    Fitzgerald, Zelda, 1900-1948
    Greene, Patterson
    Grove, Gerald, Sir, 1886-1962
    Harris, William, 1884-1946
    Hovey, Carl, b. 1875
    Howland, Jobyna
    Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968
    Johns, Orrick, 1887-1946
    Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961
    Kauser, Alice, 1872-1945
    Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930
    Lawrence, Frieda von Richthofen, 1879-1956
    Levien, Sonya, 1888?-1960
    Loos, Anita, 1893-1981
    Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925
    Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962
    Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965
    Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956
    Moses, Harry, 1873-1937
    Nielsen, Kay Rasmus, 1886-1957
    O'Neil, George, 1898-1940
    Pfeffer, Max, 1884-
    Pinchot, Rosamond, 1904-1938
    Pope-Hennessy, Una, 1876-1949
    Reedy, William Marion, 1862-1920
    Rumbold, Ethelred, Lady, 1879-1964
    Rumbold, Horace, Sir, 1869-1941
    Rumbold, Hugo, d. 1932
    Selznick, David O., 1902-1965
    Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
    Sheldon, Edward, 1886-1946
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926
    Teasdale, Sara, 1884-1933
    Ware, Harriet
    Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937
    Wheelock, John Hall, 1886-1978
    Woolcott, Alexander, 1887-1943
    Family papers
    Letters (correspondence)
    Personal papers

    Additional collection guides