Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dale H. Rose


The American nineteen thirties produced a number of female writers whose work is now largely unknown. Among these are Josephine Johnson, Josephine Herbst, and Tess Slesinger, who at the age of twenty-nine astonished the New York literary community with publication of her novel, The Unpossessed. Known as a short story writer and motion-picture script writer as well as a novelist, Tess Slesinger, born in New York City in 1905, was the youngest member of an achieving family. Her mother, Augusta Slesinger, was a practicing psychoanalyst and a longtime welfare worker in the city; her father, Anthony, was a textile executive as was her brother Laurence. Another brother, Donald, after a varied career as an analytical psychologist, studied with Erich Fromm and became a practicing psychoanalyst. A third brother, Stephen, was a television producer. Tess Slesinger, who chose her literary vocation early in life, said of herself, "I was born with the curse of intelligent parents, a happy childhood and nothing valid to rebel against so I rebelled against telling the truth . . . I told whoppers at three, tall stories at four, and home runs at five. From six to sixteen I wrote them in a diary."



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Myrna Dunham



Date Available

August 29, 2013

File Format


File Size

64 pages