Authors: Marjorie Kellogg

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist and playwright

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, 1968

Like the Lion’s Tooth, 1972

Drama:

The Smile of the Cardboard Man, pr. 1978

After You’ve Gone, pr. 1982 (also known as Mirrors)

Skybound on the “A” Train, pr. 1985 (libretto; lyrics by Thayer Burch, music by George Quincy)

Joanna, pr. 1987

Castaway: A Play with Music, pr. 1997

Screenplays:

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, 1970 (adaptation of her novel)

The Bell Jar, 1975 (adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s novel)

Nonfiction:

Finding Out, 1975

Biography

Marjorie Kellogg was one of the early women writers in television and film. She was born in Santa Barbara, California, one of two children of Emma Pickett Kellogg and Eugene Shirrell Kellogg. Her father, descended from a pioneer California family linked to the Donner party, was a Berkeley-trained entomologist who worked as the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner. Emma Kellogg was a housewife with a natural artistic gift who pursued woodcarving in college extension classes and designed and carved beautiful furniture. Marjorie grew up on a farm that was somewhat remote, but she had her own horse for companionship, and she remembers making up stories to amuse herself when she rode down to the creek near her home. She attended the private Santa Barbara Girl’s School, and later the state Normal School. Her childhood was happy except for the asthma that first struck when she was two and kept her frequently bedridden until she was about seven.{$I[AN]9810001802}{$I[A]Kellogg, Marjorie}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Kellogg, Marjorie}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Kellogg, Marjorie}{$I[tim]1922;Kellogg, Marjorie}

Kellogg attended the University of California at Berkeley briefly. She worked on the San Francisco Chronicle during World War II and was correspondent in Spain for Salute magazine in 1946. After she returned to her home in Santa Barbara, Kellogg did social work for the Red Cross under the guidance of a local resident, Mrs. Harold W. Howe, then president of the Red Cross. Kellogg returned to school and received a bachelor’s degree from Santa Barbara College, now the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mrs. Howe, a graduate of Smith College, suggested that Kellogg attend Smith’s School of Social Work, from which Kellogg received her master’s of social work in 1951.

During her training, Kellogg had worked in New York, and she continued to work there as a hospital social worker until 1968. She had a strong interest in theater, and during the 1950’s she completed two television plays: “Rain in the Morning,” which aired on NBC and starred Roddy McDowall, and “Boy on the Run,” for CBS’s Matinee Theater. Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, a novel based on Kellogg’s experiences in social work, was published in 1968 and won many enthusiastic reviews. It is a touching story of three people who meet in a hospital: Warren, a paraplegic; Arthur, who suffers from a progressive neurological disease; and Junie Moon, who has been beaten and horribly disfigured by a date. They decide to rent a place together upon their release from the hospital. The novel chronicles their struggle to survive independently in the face of Arthur’s degenerating condition and his developing relationship with Junie Moon. The novel is sparely written and highly patterned, with witty, ironic dialogue that economically reveals depths of character.

In 1970, Kellogg returned to Smith as distinguished professor of sociology, an honor she received because of the novel’s publication. She also served as visiting professor in Oberlin College’s English Department, where she delivered lectures and consulted with students on their work. When Otto Preminger asked Kellogg to write a screenplay of her novel, she decided to leave social work and devote herself to writing. Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon was translated into many languages and remains in print.

Kellogg followed this first novel with Like the Lion’s Tooth, another novel based on her years of social work. The book tells the story of several young siblings raised in New York’s underclass who suffer neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Kellogg achieves a wonderful fit between style and subject, writing with the honesty of child’s speech and using multiple points of view to create a somewhat fractured effect. Following the success of her first Hollywood venture, Kellogg wrote a screenplay for Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963). She did not find this second screenwriting experience rewarding, however, and she returned to New York to write for the theater.

Kellogg’s play The Smile of the Cardboard Man was performed in New York City in 1978. She met the actress who starred in it, Sylvia Short, and the two became lifelong companions. The 1980’s saw the production of Kellogg’s play After You’ve Gone at Actors Repertory, another production of The Smile of the Cardboard Man at Actor’s Studio, the production of Joanna at Actor’s Studio, and Kellogg’s collaboration on Skybound on the “A” Train, a musical. In 1988 Kellogg started to build a home in the foothills of Santa Barbara, which she designed with Sylvia Short. The house stands on a knoll overlooking the mountains and ocean and is landscaped by Kellogg herself. In 1997, Kellogg returned to the theater with Castaway: A Play with Music, produced by the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara.

BibliographyO’Connell, Shaun. Review of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, by Marjorie Kellogg. The Village Voice, February 6, 1969. Compares Kellogg to writers Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor in her treatment of “freaks” that questions the idea of “normal.”Price, Martin. Review of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, by Marjorie Kellogg. The Yale Review 58 (Spring, 1969). Describes the work as “brilliantly clever” and observes the undercurrent of black comedy.Stern, Daniel. “Love Among Life’s Wounded.” Review of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, by Marjorie Kellogg. Life, October 4, 1968. Stern is impressed with the many dimensions of the characters and sees the novel as a reflection of the madness of contemporary life.Virginia Quarterly Review. Review of Like the Lion’s Tooth, by Marjorie Kellogg. 49 (Winter, 1973). Finds Kellogg’s second novel “high in emotional content” and a dismal comment on American society.White, Edmund. “Victims of Love.” Review of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, by Marjorie Kellogg. The New Republic, November 23, 1968. White finds the book superior to most of its contemporaries, but a bit overly crafted.
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