Discipline: Literature

Tess Slesinger

Discipline: Literature
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1933, 1934, 1935

Tess Slesinger (1905–1945) was an American writer and screenwriter and a member of the New York intellectual scene. She was educated at Ethical Culture Fieldston School from September 1912 until June 1922, Swarthmore College and the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York. In December 1932, Story Magazine published her short story "Missis Flinders," which was based on Slesinger's own experience of having an abortion, and may have been the first short story to appear in a large-circulation periodical to address that theme explicitly. Encouraged to expand the story, Slesinger incorporated it as the final chapter of her only novel, The Unpossessed: A Novel of The Thirties (1934). The novel is also a satire of the New York left-wing milieu in which she then lived.

The 2002 reissue of The Unprocessed (NYRB Classics) features an introduction by three-time MacDowell Medal Day speaker Elizabeth Hardwick.

Slesinger portrait courtesy UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections.



Tess Slesinger worked in the Cheney studio.

Cheney Studio was given to MacDowell by Mrs. Benjamin P. Cheney and Mrs. Karl Kauffman. Like Barnard Studio, Cheney is a low, broadly massed bungalow. Sited on a steep westward slope, its porches are supported on wooden posts and fieldstone with lattices. Although it still retains its appealing character, the original design of the shingled building…

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