Writers

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Paula Fox

Award-winning American writer, Paula Fox (1923-2017), was in an orphanage, kinship care, and foster care during her childhood.

Paula Fox was born in Manhattan to screenwriters, Elsie De Sola and Paul Hervey Fox. Because the couple didn’t want their child, baby Paula was immediately put into a foundling hospital.

Unhappy about this, Paula’s maternal grandmother collected the child but by the time she was 5 months of age, Paula had been given to a Congregational minister, the Reverend Elwood Amos Corning in Blamville, New York, with whom she lived for several years.

When that didn’t work out, Paula was passed around into a variety of kinship and foster care arrangements. At 20, Paula Fox repeated her parent’s behaviour and gave up a baby for adoption. That daughter is Linda Carroll who became a writer, psychologist and mother of singer Courtney Love; Paula and Linda finally met when Paula was in her 70s.

Paula Fox worked a variety of jobs in her early adult years. She left San Francisco for Europe after WWII. On her return to the United States, Fox married, raised 2 sons and worked as a teacher. She took up writing, but success was hard won and her first book wasn’t published until she was in her 40s. Fox won the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1978 in recognition of her many children’s books. She had previously won the Newbery Medal in 1974 for her novel, The Slave Dancer (1974)

In 1991, by which time all of Paula Fox’s novels were out of print, novelist Jonathan Franzen read Desperate Characters (1970), wrote an essay about it and eventually Norton republished all Fox’s novels between 1999 and 2002.

This meant that when Paula Fox published her memoir Borrowed Finery in 2001, it attracted more attention than it might have otherwise. Paula Fox was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame in 2011.