Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Evelyn Nef

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: Washington, D.C.
MacDowell Fellowships: 1993

Evelyn Stefansson Nef (1913-2009) was a puppeteer, photographer, writer, psychotherapist, and philanthropist who palled around with the likes of Saul Bellow, Buckminster Fuller, and Marc Chagall and had a knack for reinventing herself when circumstances required it.

She eventually met and married arctic explorer Vilhjalmur "Stef" Stefansson, and partly due to his interests, she wrote Here Is Alaska and two other books on the far north. To aid her research, she learned Russian, Icelandic, and Danish. By the time Stefansson's library was transferred to Dartmouth College, she was a polar expert and taught the arctic seminar there.

When Stefansson died in 1962, “Evvie” moved to Washington, D.C. where she met widower John Nef. The two married and their union lasted until his death in 1988. Evelyn Nef continued to write, publishing Finding My Way: The Autobiography of an Optimist, and spent the last years of her life sharing her fortune with arts organizations, including MacDowell, which was able to build Nef Studio in 1993 because of her generosity.



Evelyn Nef worked in the Banks studio.

Banks, an ell on the north end of the Lodge dormitory, was first used as an artist’s studio in 1970. Since then, it has played host to an extraordinary list of writers working in several disciplines. In all seasons, Fellows have enjoyed the pastoral view through the French doors facing a field…

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