Identified individuals are represented by a biographical sketch, a list of connections to other signatures, and, in most cases, an artifact from the Ransom Centers collections. Help us identify more signatures by submitting your suggested identification.
Emily Strunsky (dates unknown) grew up in Greenwich Village and was a childhood friend of George and Ira Gershwin. In 1920 she married Lou Paley, who signed the door just above her. Paley was also friends with the Gershwins and had written lyrics for several of George's songs. George played at Emily and Lou's wedding and a few years later, Ira Gershwin married Emily's sister. After Emily and Lou married, the Paleys' apartment in Greenwich Village was the site of famous Saturday night musical salons. In 1926, according to Gershwin biographer Joan Peyser, Emily Paley sent George Gershwin a copy of Du Bose Heyward's novel Porgy, an event that led eventually to the creation of the famous opera Porgy and Bess.
The dust jacket of Du Bose Heyward's Porgy (New York: George H. Doran, 1925)
The white novelist Heyward's work was a bestseller when it was released, and despite the stereotypical language in the dust-jacket copy shown here, is considered a sympathetic, positive portrayal of southern blacks for its time and was well-received by black and white literati alike. Heyward and his wife Dorothy co-wrote a very successful play version that opened on Broadway in 1927. The opera Porgy and Bess, though popularly known as the creation of the Gershwin brothers, is descended directly from the play, and Du Bose Heyward co-wrote the libretto with Ira Gershwin.