Janet Stevenson

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Janet Marshall Stevenson
Born Janet Atlantis Marshall
(1913-02-04)February 4, 1913
Chicago, Illinois
Died June 9, 2009(2009-06-09) (aged 96)
Warrenton, Oregon
Pen name Janet Marshall, Janet Lewis, Clare Thorne, Allison Thorne, Jane(t) Holmes, Jane Marsh
Occupation Novelist, playwright, biographer, professor, journalist, social activist
Alma mater Bryn Mawr College
Yale University
Spouse Philip Stevenson
Benson Rotstein
Children Joseph Stevenson, Edward Stevenson

Janet Marshall Stevenson (February 4, 1913 – June 9, 2009) was an American writer, teacher and social activist from Oregon who wrote in the areas of civil rights, the women's movement, the peace movement, the environment and the arts. She published works in several fiction and non-fiction genres, and was recognized with several awards. She wrote a biography of California Attorney General Robert W. Kenny, who defended the Hollywood Ten before the House Un-American Activities Committee; she herself was placed on the Hollywood blacklist for her political beliefs and associations, along with her husband Philip Stevenson.

Early life and education

Janet Atlantis Marshall[1] was born on February 4, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois to John Carter, an investment banker, and Atlantis Octavia (née McClendon) Marshall.[2]

Marshall graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1933 and received an MFA in theater arts from Yale University in 1937.[3]

Marshall married playwright and screenwriter Philip Edward Stevenson in New York City in 1939. They met while working for a summer stock theatre in Surry, Maine. The Stevensons collaborated on several plays, including "Counterattack," which was produced on Broadway in 1944. It was later turned into a successful motion picture of the same name. Janet and Philip had two sons, Joseph and Edward. The Stevensons were divorced in 1964 and Philip died while traveling in the Soviet Union in 1965. Janet Stevenson moved to Astoria, Oregon the same year.


Stevenson taught theater at the University of Southern California but was fired for her alleged ties to the Communist Party. She taught at Grambling College in Louisiana from 1966 to 1967, and served as a lecturer at Portland State University in 1968.

She served as cultural arts editor of the Chicago Weekly while she was in Chicago in the 1970s.

Stevenson published articles in American Heritage and the Atlantic Monthly among other magazines. Her literary agent was Barthold Fles.

Later life and death

Janet Stevenson lived Clatsop County, Oregon from 1965 until her death in 2009. She lived at various times in Walluski, Hammond and Warrenton, and served two terms as the mayor of Hammond, beginning in 1986.

Stevenson married Benson Rotstein in 1965. In 1970, Rotstein's contract was not renewed by the Astoria School Board because of his involvement in the peace movement and his use of controversial materials in his classroom. He appealed to the American Association of University Professors, but their decision was still pending when he died in a boating accident on the Columbia River Bar the same year.

Janet Stevenson served as president of the Oregon Women's Political Caucus for many years and helped found the North Coast chapter of the organization.

Stevenson wrote The Slope in 2009 about Clatsop County doctor Bethenia Angelina Owens-Adair to "rescue Bethenia from obscurity"; it was published privately for Portland State University's "Walk of the Heroines" celebration.[4]

Stevenson died in Warrenton on June 6, 2009. Her obituary describes her as "a lifelong campaigner for human rights, social justice and peace and a staunch advocate of equal rights for women."

Her papers include the manuscript for a book, The Last Town in Oregon, about her years as mayor of Hammond. It was not to be opened until her death.[5]

Awards and honors

In 1938, Janet Stevenson won a John Golden Fellowship in playwriting; her fellow recipient that year was Tennessee Williams. She won a C.E.S. Wood Distinguished Writer Award from the Oregon Book Awards in 1990. In 1994, she was honored as an Oregon Woman of Achievement. Her novel Departure was selected in 2005 by the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission for "Literary Oregon, 100 Books, 1800 – 2000", an exhibition in celebration of the centennial of the Oregon State Library.[6] Her name is included in Portland State University's Walk of the Heroines.[7]



  • Weep No More: A Novel (1957)[8]
  • The Ardent Years: A Novel (1960)
  • Sisters and Brothers: A Novel (1966)
  • Departure: A Novel (1985) [1985] (1997)
  • The Slope (2009)

Juvenile biography

  • Painting America's Wildlife: John James Audubon (1961)
  • Marian Anderson: Singing to the World (1963)
  • Pioneers in Freedom: Adventures in Courage (1969)
  • Spokesman for Freedom: The Life of Archibald Grimke (1969)


  • Woman Aboard [1969], (1981)

Juvenile history

  • Soldiers in the Civil Rights War: Adventures in Courage (1971)
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott, December, 1955: American Blacks Demand an End to Segregation (1971)
  • Women's Rights (1972)
  • The School Segregation Cases (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and Others): The United States Supreme Court Rules on Racially Separate Public Education (1973)


  • "Declaration" with Philip Stevenson (1940)
  • "Counter-Attack" with Philip Stevenson (1944)
  • The Man from Cairo (screenplay) (1953)
  • "The Third President" (a rewrite of "Declaration") (1976)


  • The Undiminished Man: A Political Biography of Robert Walker Kenny (1980)


  1. Janet Atlantis Marshall. The Year Book of 1933. Bryn Mawr College. 1933. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Guide to the Janet Marshall Stevenson Papers 1929-1996". NWDA. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Obituaries: Janet M. Stevenson". The North Coast Citizen. June 15, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Stevenson, Janet Marshall". Oregon Authors. Oregon Library Association & Oregon Center for the Book. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Swain, Sandra (January 13, 2010). "More Than The Last Mayor of Hammond". The North Coast Citizen. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The 100 Oregon Books". Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Walk of Heroines: Janet Stevenson". Portland State University. Retrieved November 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Contemporary Authors

External links