2. Her dozen or so novels can mostly be divided into two categories: the wickedly satirical New York-set ones and the Ohio-set ones, which can have as much bite as the New York ones but seem to come from a more scarred inner place in the writer. (I would start with A Time to Be Born as an introduction to Powell.)
3. Powell casts an unforgiving eye on her characters; whether she likes them or not, none of them escape having their flaws pointed out and paraded (entertainingly) before the reader.
3. Powell’s stepmother was abusive and when she burned Powell’s notebooks in 1910, the teen-ager left to live with her aunt Orpha May Sherman, who was to become a major influence on her. (You can learn more about her home life in her semi-autobiographical My Home Is Far Away.)
4. Powell’s son, Jojo, was “mentally impaired” (quite possibly autistic) and the challenges he presented to Powell created an intense relationship that was not easy for her.
5. A Time to Be Born, one of the few Powell novels to achieve any commercial success during her lifetime, features a character clearly modeled on Claire Booth Luce.
6. Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, composer and lyricist of Bye Bye Birdie, worked for a while on an unproduced musical version of her final novel, The Golden Spur. (I, for one, think it would have made a splendid musical.)
7. She once commented that “A novel is like a gland pill – it nips off the cream of my hysterics and gets them running on track in a book where they belong instead of rioting all over my person.”
8. After her death, there were periodic revivals of interest in Powell, but it was not until the 1990s that a full-scale reappraisal of her work brought her something resembling mainstream success.
9. Although not as consistently well done as her novels, the best of Powell’s numerous short stories are rewarding; her pieces for the stage are much more flawed.
10. Although this is opinion rather than fact, Powell’s choice of title for many of her books was often weak; while each is appropriate for the subject of the book, many do not convey the rich personality of the story and the writing within.