Once Upon a Time, When America Its Paid Writers | Literary Hub


In February of 1935, at the end of a hellishly cold winter, a small group of writers bundled up in coats and carried signs as they walked in a circle in front of the Port Authority building in New York City. It was the first strike of the Writers’ Guild, a group that had organized to address the hunger, poverty, and joblessness that faced writers during the Depression. The leader carried a sign that read: “Children Need Books. Writers Need a Break. We Demand Projects.” The unemployment rate that year was twenty percent. Hundreds of people were living in makeshift shanties in Central Park. Hunger marches were common. Workers were fervently demanding relief from the government, and writers needed help, too, even though they were a group many found much less sympathetic than out-of-work bricklayers and construction workers. There was a sense in the 1930s, as there is now, that writers had chosen their fate; they were college-educated bohemians whose work had turned out to be expendable. It was not clear at all that the government would step in to help. The poets, novelists, and journalists on the Writers’ Guild picket line were part of what writer Jason Boog calls “the crisis generation,” writers who came of age during the Depression and contended with the withering poverty and joblessness of the 1930s in both their politics and their work. …

Once Upon a Time, When America Its Paid Writers | Literary Hub

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