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Remembering Anne Edwards: Performer, Screenwriter, Author, and Former Guild President

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Anne Edwards, prolific author and former president of the Authors Guild from 1981 to 1985, passed away on January 20, 2024, at the age of 96. She was a leader who fought passionately for authors’ rights and interests throughout her decades-long career.  

Born on August 20, 1927, Edwards got her start as a child performer before becoming a noted Hollywood screenwriter in the 1940s and 1950s. Her film credits include co-writing the first draft of Funny Girl (1968), starring Barbra Streisand. She lived abroad before returning to the U.S. in 1973, where she began writing bestselling biographies and novels while residing in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and California. 

Edwards penned celebrated biographies of public figures such as Princess Diana, Maria Callas, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Margaret Mitchell, Ronald Reagan, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Temple, and Countess Sonya Tolstoy. Through biography, Edwards sought to capture the essence of her subjects’ lives and the symbolic significance they held. She delved into the complexities of exploitation, mental health, and relationship dynamics with exceptional depth. In total, she wrote eight novels — including the bestseller The Survivors — sixteen biographies, three children’s books, an autobiography, and two memoirs. 

In addition to her prolific writing career, Edwards served as president of the Authors Guild from 1981 to1985. Her tenure was marked by a deep commitment to fostering interaction and accessibility within the literary community. She championed the rights and livelihoods of authors by overseeing efforts to reform publishing contracts, provide libel insurance, and explore public lending rights. Edwards increased engagement between the Guild’s membership and leadership and was a vocal opponent of censorship and book-banning. 

Edwards’ work extended beyond her presidency, as she continued to serve on the board of directors of the Authors Guild. Her collection of manuscripts, papers, and materials—now housed in the Special Collections Department of the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA, where she was a lecturer—is a testament to her prolific career. 

Edward’s passing is a profound loss to the literary world. Her work, characterized by its depth, empathy, and understanding, will continue to inspire and enlighten future generations of readers and writers. Her legacy as a writer, biographer, and champion of authors’ rights will endure, a testament to a life devoted to the power of the written word. 

We leave you with these words from her first letter as Guild president, published in the March–April 1981 issue of the Bulletin: “It is my opinion that anything we do, any obstacle that has to be overcome, or any unfair practice that negates our rights and endangers our livelihoods as writers can be better dealt with together, and that together, we could never stand defeated for very long.”   

We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends.