Josephine Lawrence

Josephine Lawrence

Josephine Lawrence, ca1940 Childhood and Adolescence
Lawrence was born March 12, 1889,[1a] in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Dr. Elijah W. Lawrence and Mary Barker Lawrence. One interviewer described her as the child of "[a] dignified medico-father [and] a retiring mother," noting that her parents' influence and her "Quaker ancestry combined to give the young Josephine independence of spirit." [1] In an autobiographical sketch, Lawrence noted that "As a child, I spent considerable time with a Quaker aunt who spoke the plain language and saw to it that I attended First Day Sabbath regularly. Perhaps this taught me to love silence."

During her childhood, the family lived at 45 Halsey Street, Newark. Later in life, Lawrence recalled that "It was a residential street until Hahne's built there. I can remember the workmen tearing down the quiet respectable boarding house just opposite our house....The popular recreation was sitting on the stoops in the late afternoon and evening when the weather was mild. There was a branch (or perhaps it was the main) of the Public Library on West Park Street and my brother and I used to get books there to read on the stoop. We also had a back yard and my father planted two or three peach trees which bore delicious fruit. And the weekly wash was always dried in the sun in the back yard." [2]

She attended Barringer High School, where "her penchant for writing and her inclination towards shyness, already marked the person she would be throughout her life." One of her articles for the school publication, the Acropolis, won a $5 prize, but Lawrence was "[t]oo self-conscious to appear in person for the prize money ... [and] did not receive it until a schoolmate collected it for her." [3] Nonetheless, "she resolved then and there to become an author." [4]

While Lawrence was in her teens, the family moved to Hopewell, where her father took up farming. She had initially planned to attend college, but found herself 'completely floored' by high school math, which decided her against continuing her formal education. Instead, she tried writing, penning some stories for children's magazines, and -- although she disliked farming -- writing brief pieces for a farm journal.[5] Later, she further developed her talent by taking writing courses at New York University. [6]

Children's PgIn 1915, she became editor of the children's page of the Newark Sunday Call, writing many of the short pieces that graced the page. In 1918, she also assumed responsibility for the Call's household page; in addition to writing and editing articles for the page, she also ran its question-and-answer column, devoted to a different topic each week, thus gaining insights into women's attitudes and concerns -- information which would serve her well in her later fiction.

This site has moved; an updated version of this page is now at

Please update your bookmarks or notify any referring sites. Thank you.

Copyright 1999 - Deidre Johnson

Nedstat Counter